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Edwards Dodges Trouble

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, April 17, 2008

Edwards among those to dodge trouble at Phoenix
Burton, Gordon rally after early problems to top-15s
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM 

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- He incurred a penalty for an over-the-
wall crewman who jumped into the pit box too soon. He lost 
time when a tire got away during a pit stop. He lost a lap 
when he was trapped on pit road. But Carl Edwards still 
rallied to record a top-five finish Saturday night at 
Phoenix International Raceway, more proof of the charmed 
life the Roush Fenway Racing driver is living right now. 

"An adventure, to say the least," he said. "We passed a lot 
of cars and then we just had a problem in the pits, got a 
penalty. We came back quickly, though. Everything fell into 
place, [interim crew chief] Robbie [Reiser] made some great 
calls, but then we had another bad pit stop, and that set 
us back. But to come out of here fourth with all the 
trouble we had, that's a blessing. I'm not going to 
complain too much about that." 

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He wasn't alone. Edwards was one of several drivers who 
experienced trouble in the Subway Fresh Fit 500, but came 
back to record strong finishes. Jeff Burton spun in fluid 
dropped by Ryan Newman, but rallied to finish sixth. Jeff 
Gordon lost a lap when he was trapped on pit road under 
caution, got back in the top 10, and settled for 13th 
after being forced to pit for fuel in the final laps. 

But no one had a more adventurous night than Edwards, 
coming off his series-leading third Sprint Cup victory 
last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. He didn't lead a 
lap Saturday night, but stayed among the leaders for much 
of the event, running as high as second. But on an early 
pit stop, NASCAR deemed that Edwards' front tire changer 
had been a touch too eager scrambling over the wall and 
sent the No. 99 car to the tail end of the field. It got 
worse -- while Edwards was on pit road, Joe Nemechek 
crashed in Turn 1, and the resulting caution trapped the 
Roush driver a lap down. 

But Edwards stormed back, receiving a free pass to get 
back on the lead lap, and at one point was as fast as 
any of the other cars on the track. He gradually climbed 
from 20th to 15th to ninth to fourth, but ran out of laps 
before he could challenge eventual race winner Jimmie 
Johnson. "I don't know if I've ever passed that many cars 
on a racetrack, ever," he said after a fourth-place finish 
that kept him ninth in points. 


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"That's a race-winning car right there. That's a good one. 
That's cool," Edwards said "It's good that we've done 
really, really well on the mile-and-a-halfs, and to be 
able to come here and have that fast of a racecar, a car 
that I thought could win the race under some different 
circumstances, that's really good. My hat's off to Jimmie. 
Those guys have been working hard, getting better and 
better every week, they earned that one." 

Polesitter Newman had a seal in his engine fail on Lap 133, 
and the resulting explosion caused all kinds of havoc for 
all kinds of people. Burton was running behind the No. 12 
car when it let go, and spun out in the fluid dropped on 
the racetrack. But he kept the car off the wall, and 
continued his march from his 39th-place starting position 
to his eventual sixth-place finish. He also kept the points 
lead for a third consecutive week, improving to 80 ahead 
of Kyle Busch. 


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"We were going to run 11th, 12th or something like that, 
but [crew chief] Scott [Miller] made a great call and got 
us a sixth. We will certainly take it," Burton said. "I am 
disappointed in how we ran, I am disappointed in myself. 
We are just missing something. We had no damage to the car 
when we spun in the oil from the 12 when it blew up. We 
were probably pretty lucky there was no damage, we got a 
little dirt track racing in, but it worked out for us. 
There was a little bit of luck involved there." 

Gordon had no such luck. Like Edwards, he was sitting on 
pit road when Nemechek crashed, and fell a lap down. He 
received a free pass, took two tires during a pit stop to 
pick up track position, and was up to seventh place before 
having to make a late stop for fuel. His eventual 13th-
place finish helped him improve one spot to 13th in series 

"I was very proud of the fact that we were able to fight 
back and get our lap back and then battle with two tires 
up there," said Gordon, the defending champion of the 
Phoenix spring race. "We were flirting with a top-10. 
And then of course we didn't have the fuel mileage that 
some of those other guys did and so, you know, we didn't 
stay out." 

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