CARL EDWARDS/No.60 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford started second, but led the most laps and won the NASCAR Nationwide Series Hefty Odor Block 200 Race at Phoenix International Raceway Saturday afternoon. Points leader CLINT BOWYER/No.2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet started twelfth and finished fourth, which cut his point spread ahead of Edwards for the Championship. There now are only 56 Drivers Championship points separating the two going into the last NNS race next Saturday at Homestead Miami Speedway. Bowyer also picked up Owner points, so RCR is only 28 points behind Joe Gibbs Racing.
It was the sixth win this season for Edwards, nineteenth in 140 NNS starts. The victory gave his team owner, JACK ROUSH, his ninety-seventh win, making Roush the winningest owner in NNS history.
Edwards doesn’t so much think he’s on a streak as much as “we built a great team.”
Bowyer said he “dodged the bullet” Saturday afternoon in the race, as he characterized his car as being too tight. He was caught out in a five-car accident on the front stretch, which required repair work and duct tape. Bowyer said he was amazed he was able to get back racing after watching the accident on the Jumbotron during the caution. Edwards said he was able to read the front of Bowyer’s car a lot better after the accident.
Second through fifth were Pole Sitter DENNY HAMLIN/No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota; KEVIN HARVICK/No.33 KHI Chevrolet; Bowyer; and KYLE BUSCH/No.32 Braun Racing Toyota. Hamlin had a pit stop miscue forcing him back into the pits and out of contention for the win.
Top Rookie LANDON CASSILL/No.5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet (car owned by Hendrick Motorsports) finished sixth. He came from the back of the field, after switching to a backup car due to an accident in qualifying, but it wasn’t too much of a jolt as he qualified forty-second. He said “That was pretty unbelievable. I just passed everybody when I could pass ’em and rode when I needed to ride.”
This was Cassill’s seventh top Rookie finish this season. PIR was his last race in the car, and he’s looking for sponsorship so he can run in 2009.
After the race, Richard Childress Racing protested the finish of SCOTT LAGASSE/No.11 Chevrolet who was penalized for misuse of the blend line on the last pit stop, gaining positions not allowed. This moved Lagasse back from his unofficial fourteenth place finish to twentieth behind SCOTT WIMMER/No.29 RCR Chevrolet.
It wasn’t the most exiting NNS race, but the 37,500 fans had warm, sunny weather. The pace picked up with four laps to go, with a caution for MARCOS AMBROSE/No.59 JTG Racing Ford kangarooing into the wall. This led to a Green, White Checkered flag finish with an extra lap.
After the Race, NASCAR took one spring from No.32 (KYLE BUSCH/Toyota) and No.33 (Harvick.) They will go back to Concord, NC to the NASCAR Research & Development Center for a look-see. Friday three cars had a part taken, also for a look see at R&D: No.12 (JUSTIN ALLGAIER Penske Dodge) – intake manifold; No.55 (BRIAN ICKLER Robby Gordon Dodge) – gasket; and No.9 (A.J. ALLMENDINGER Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge) – front A frame.
Nine cautions for 41 laps cut into green flag racing. Six involved accidents, two were for debris and one for oil on track. No one was hurt. Six drivers swapped the lead six times. Edwards led once for 78 laps, Hamlin led twice for 62 laps and Harvick led once for 53 laps.
When asked why he sent such a large Roush-Fenway contingent over to rival KHI pits Friday night during the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, to help Chevrolet driver, RON HORNADAY, get back on track; Roush said “Well, the thing about Hornaday is that he’s (Edward’s Crew Chief) DREW BLICKENSDERFER’s father-in-law. And so every time Hornaday has run into one of our guys in the truck series, which has happened repeatedly, Drew has paid a price. I’ve thrashed him pretty hard for it. And so I felt that I owed Drew that last night since we had capacity. We had fabricators and we didn’t anything involved in the wreck. Kevin Harvick flagged me down when he was in the Nationwide car ready to qualify and I’d walked up to watch one of our guys qualify in the line before they went on pit road. He flagged me over and wanted to thank me and I appreciated that. I said, “Don’t misunderstand. I do not like Ron Hornaday. I don’t want anybody to get that impression, but he was definitely the lesser of the two evils that I was confronted with. You need to pick your friends as carefully as you need to pick your enemies. I had a chance to define some space and I think I made the right call.”
IndyCar and now A1GP Team USA driver, DANICA PATRICK, was soaking up the sunshine and attention in the NNS pits before the race. Meanwhile, her American A1GP co-driver, MARCO ANDRETTI, was in Chengdu, China for his first A1GP race. Due to shortened sessions, he qualified sixteenth and eleventh for the sprint and feature races, respectively. The field is 20 cars. Andretti Green Racing hasn’t yet announced the schedule for the 2008-2009 Team USA schedule.
The season’s finale NNS Ford 150 Race will air live Saturday 15 November 2008 at 4:00 PM EST on ESPN2.