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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Carl Edwards; decision not to pit proves costly to Chase hopes; Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. make peace

With not many laps to go, Carl Edwards was in great shape at Bristol -- leading with the potential to win if he got enough caution laps and saved some fuel.

But the race stayed green, then he got passed by Denny Hamlin and a whole lot of other people. Then he had to pit for gas with 5 laps to go, and finished 22nd.

Still, he said he had to try to gamble that staying out would lead him to a win that he desperately needs to make the Chase.

“It’s all you can do is gamble like that. If we would have pitted when we should have pitted we were gonna run 10th or 15th anyway. We were just gonna get fuel and the tires were done at the end and that’s all we had. I made the decision to stay out, which in hindsight that was the wrong decision because we probably would have finished better than we are right now, but I wanted a chance to win the race. If we would have had one more caution or a couple cautions and short runs, we were up there in a position to win this thing. You don’t get those opportunities very often, so I had to take it.”

Rough day for Ford brigade
The only strong Ford finisher at Bristol at all was Marcos Ambrose, who came home 5th. The rest of the Blue Ovals were 19th or worse.

Jeff Burton puts his bad luck in perspective

Jeff Burton is having a pretty bad year; whatever can go wrong, will go wrong – even on weeks where he has a fast car, like this weekend. But he’s not letting the bad luck get him down.

‘I saw Ryan (Newman) got in trouble and he started spinning. He looked like he was going to stay against the wall, and so I committed to the bottom and then he started in and I couldn’t get turned back to the right. It was pretty disappointing. We had a really fast car tonight. The CAT Chevrolet was really good and we needed a good run and needed something good to happen. We had a good enough car tonight to have that happen. It’s just been one of those years. I guess the saying that if he wouldn’t put it on you if you couldn’t take it, so I guess I must be pretty tough.”

Logano conquers Bristol

Logano has 2 Cup wins in his entire Cup career; but he was 6 wins in Nationwide this year alone. The latest came Friday at Bristol, a track where he had previously had some great races but never won.

"I think we've led the most laps in this race several times. I always fell a little short or something went wrong and it's cool to finally be in victory lane here. This is one of the coolest race tracks to win at -- I think there's three or four that are extra special to win at and this is one of them.

Dale and Jeff are friends again

It was a big story last week when Jeff Gordon went off on teammate Dale Jr. on the radio during the MIS race. But Jeff says they’re all good now, and he won’t refrain from expressing his views about anyone – even a teammate.

“Why can I not say anything to him but I can say that to somebody else and it’s not a big deal? To me, at that moment I’m not thinking about that’s my teammate. I’m thinking I had to check-up to keep from wrecking us and it just cost me like five more spots, so I was mad,” Gordon said. “I sent him a text immediately when that race was over. I didn’t feel like I had to do it; I just wanted to make sure that he understood what I said and, and that we could move (past it). Listen, when we had the incident here, he called me. That stuff happens. I think people don’t understand what teammates are or something in this sport. Teammates are you share information and you get along but you’re still competitors out there and some days you don’t get along. There are moments like that that can maybe be even tougher because you’re teammates. You’ve got to work together and you’re going to see one another at the meeting coming up on Tuesday, so you’ve got to work out your differences pretty quickly.”

Engineer Newman offers suggestion for MIS pit road

Asked about Mark Martin’s scary pit road wreck last week at MIS, former engineering student Ryan Newman offered his views on how to improved safety on pit road at MIS.

“I have thought about that a little bit. The only thing that comes to mind off the top of my head is where Mark hit, that was the area they call the pit in, and he hit where Kasey Kahne’s pit was and I don’t know whose pit was behind it. But you could have a flare there so there is still a vertical wall and if Mark was to come through there the way he did, it would ramp him back out to the other wall instead of continuing in to that wall. So you would just put a cheese wedge of a wall there so that when someone is coming in there at that speed, it shoves them out. It’s the only thing I can think of. You don’t want to have….you could put sand barrels there but you are just going to blow sand into everyone’s pit box. Yeah, it helps but to me a flared-out wall would help. And when you see that a little bit like at Darlington where we have the tunnel flares and things like that, but it’s something we have dealt with and had no issues with it, but from a safety standpoint I would say flared walls in position like that, the back edge would put a quick fix in that in my mind.”

Reversal of positions at Roush
A year ago, Carl Edwards was on fire and gunning for a title, and literally lost it on a tiebreaker. This year, Greg Biffle is leading the Roush brigade. He is up top of the standings, in the Chase already, and Edwards is desperately battling just to make the Chase.

Biffle commented on this change of fortune among the Roush teammates.

“Last year it was worse than ever for me because Matt was winning races and Carl was winning races and competing and we just couldn’t quite get there. I’m convinced a lot of it is the chemistry within the team and just attention to detail. A lot of it has to ride on the crew chief’s shoulders too, making sure he’s staying up with the small items that change throughout. Like last week at Michigan, I’ll be perfectly honest with you. On Friday, I was wanting to get my backup car out. I’m asking him, ‘What is the second car we have in the truck because I can’t drive this thing.’ They went back and looked at the notebook and the springs and we looked at what Matt was doing because Matt was pretty good and we came back and said, ‘Yeah, we don’t think this is what we need.’ We went back to the direction of what we raced in the last race and on Saturday it was perfect. So I would have run 25th last week, but, instead, we got it right overnight. It’s not that much between being competitive and just being off a tiny, tiny bit. This sport is so competitive. The amount is almost immeasurable between being able to win and running 12th.

Hamlin delivers 200th win for No. 11 car

When the 11 car pulled into Victory Lane Saturday night at Bristol, it was a familiar site.

That’s because Denny Hamlin’s win was the 200th for the car number,

Hamlin said he’s glad he was finally able to deliver that landmark win for the car.

"You know, we have been thinking about it for a long time. It's big because it's my 20th, 200th for the car, and you look at the names, Ned Jarrett and those guys that have driven number 11 -- I'm just a spec on that stat sheet of wins for this number. But you know, hopefully by the time I'm done years down the road, whoever takes the 11 after that will try to live up to what we accomplished. Who knows where it ends, but this is a number that it's been big in NASCAR history. It's been connected to a lot of championships. It's big for me. It was my number when I grew up. When I grew up, my very first race car when I was 16 years old was a purple and white number 11, so I'm driving it today."

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