2008-11-06 / Sports

Edwards Stretches Fuel For Texas Win

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Carl Edwards Carl Edwards FT. WORTH, Texas - "Amazing," is the way Carl Edwards' crew chief Bob Osborne described his driver's win Sunday in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. But it was Osborne's decision to keep Edwards and his No. 99 Office Depot Ford on the track, while everyone else pitted for a splash of fuel late in the race.

The strategy paid off as Edwards went 69 laps on the last tank of fuel and was able to gain 77 points on the Chase leader Jimmie Johnson, who finished 15th.

"I don't know what to say, my guys did a great job," said Edwards. "We probably made the wrong call on the last pit stop by taking on four tires, but Bob came up with a way to win this thing, anyway.

"First, he said, 'We're two-tenths of a lap short, so conserve.' Then he came back on and said, 'No, we're four laps short, just go real hard and we'll pit.' The next time he came back and said, "Conserve." Just by default I knew he wasn't too sure about it."

"I'm really glad it worked out and we were able to gain some ground on Jimmie."

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were really never able to get the handle where they wanted it on Johnson's No. 48. He went a lap down, and at one time was running 30th.

"We got the car back where it was competitive, like it would run in the top 5 or top 10, but we just couldn't get up to the top handling speed," said Johnson. "I'm frustrated because I thought we were better than that."

Polesitter Jeff Gordon finished second.

"Hey, this was like a win for us," said Gordon. "It was a crazy day. We were good at the beginning, but fell back to fifth. We tried to free it up, and one time I got too loose and lost all my track position and had to fight my way back on the lead lap."

Late in the race, David Gilliland got into the No. 42 car driven by Juan Montoya. Montoya and Gilliland had bumped each other several times earlier. With 70 laps to go in the 334-lap race, Gilliland cut down on the rear of the No. 42, sending it and Montoya hard into the outside wall.

"I had slid up in front of him earlier, and he jacked my rear wheels up," said Gilliland. "We were going down the back straightaway and he got into me again. I had let him go, but I got a good run off the corner and misjudged and got into him."

Montoya's car was too damaged to continue and NASCAR parked Gilliland and the No. 38 for the remainder of the race.

Top-10 finishers: 1. Carl Edwards, 2. Jeff Gordon, 3. Jamie McMurray, 4. Clint Bowyer, 5. Greg Biffle, 6. Kyle Busch, 7. Kevin Harvick, 8. Martin Truex Jr., 9. Matt Kenseth, 10. David Reutimann

Top-12 Chase contenders with two races to go: 1. Johnson-6366, 2. Edwards-6260, 3. Biffle-6223, 4. Burton 6154, 5. Gordon-6111, 6. Bowyer- 6099, 7. Harvick-6087, 8. Kenseth-5973, 9. Stewart-5962, 10. Kyle Busch-5938, 11. Earnhardt-5937, 12. Hamlin-5935

Top-10 Nationwide Series drivers after 33 of 35: 1. Bowyer-4817, 2. Edwards-4726, 3. Keselowski-4524, 4. Ragan-4310, 5. Bliss-4250, 6. Reutimann 4194, 7. Kyle Busch-4126, 8. M. Wallace-3881, 9. Leffler-3881, 10. Ambrose-3830

Top-10 Craftsman Truck Series drivers after 23 of 25: 1. Benson-3489, 2. Hornaday-3483, 3. Bodine-3266, 4. Darnell-3136, 5. Crafton-3133, 6. Skinner-3123, 7. Crawford-3113, 8. Setzer-2924, 9. Sprague-2910, 10. Cook-2804

ARCA RE/MAX releases 2009 schedule

The ARCA Re/Max Series has released its 2009 schedule. The 22-race slate will include 13 states and Canada.

Feb. 7-Daytona Int'l. Speedway; Apr. 5-Salem, Ind.; Apr. 19-Rockingham, N.C.; Apr. 24-Talladega Superspeedway; May 9-Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.; May 17-Toledo Speedway, Toledo, Ohio; June 6- Pocono Raceway. Long Pond, Pa.; June 12-Michigan Int'l. Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.; June 20-Music City Motorplex, Nashville, Tenn.; June 28-Cayuga Motor Speedway, Hagersville, ON; July 11-Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa; July 18- Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.; July 25-Berlin Raceway, Marne, Mich.; Aug. 1-Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pa.; Aug. 23-Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield, Ill.; Aug. 28-Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.; Sept. 4-Toledo Speedway, Toledo, Ohio; Sept. 9-DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, DuQuoin, Iowa; Sept. 13-New Jersey Motorsports Park, Millville, N.J.; Sept. 19-Salem Speedway, Salem, Ind.; Oct. 1- Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.; Oct. 11-Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham, N.C.

Where's the Chase excitement?

NASCAR racing isn't about to die on the vine, but more and more fans feel like the excitement of the actual racing isn't what it used to be.

The core of NASCAR should be the race itself. Not the first 26 or the last 10 races, but all of them. Exciting on-track racing is what makes a person want to see more.

The 10-race Chase for the Championship was designed to bring excitement at the end of the racing season. NASCAR wanted a way to hold its ground and attract new fans during the final three months of the season. That's more difficult since Jimmie Johnson won the last two championships and is turning this year's playoffs into a blowout.

Fans I talk with say that if NASCAR would pay more attention to their gripes, they could improve some of the boring stuff.

"Why does there always seem to be a couple cautions for debris during the last 10-20 laps of a race," said B. W. of Dover, Del. "I think they are more concerned about putting on a show like the World Wrestling Federation, than promoting good sideby side racing.

"It's gotten so that the only time you see real competitive racing is during the last 25 laps of a race. Watching the end of a race is about all that's interesting to me."

I agree with you B. W.. Somewhere along the way NASCAR has lost some of its ability to keep fans glued to the TV on race day.

During the Atlanta race weekend, four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon pitched NASCAR racing in one of his interviews.

"I think that there is only one reason why you watch NASCAR racing and that's because it's exciting," Gordon said.

Everyone knows by now that NASCAR has been on a fast track for the past decade, but the economy is slowing it down. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said it will never happen, but the current 36-race schedule should be reduced to 28.

"What happens is we've saturated the market, with race after race," said Earnhardt. "When the race was a 28-race schedule, the sport was giving you just enough to get really excited about.

"But we've already passed the point of no return. We're driven by the ability to make another dollar and there's no way we would ever trim it down."

Certainly NASCAR has gotten bigger and more polished, but is that reason enough to put corporate executves ahead of the fans?

Maybe the season is too long. Maybe the sheer amount of racing that is available to race fans is causing an overload.

NASCAR has repeatedly said they believe the sport is in good health and has no plans to either reduce the size of the fields or alter the present rules.

I don't have the answer, but it's NASCAR's responsibility to provide the fan with exciting racing.

This is a hard time for many NASCAR fans. I think the powersthat be need to examine every facet of their operation to see how it can be made better.

Next week: NASCAR is still sound.

Weekend racing: All three of NASCAR's major series will be out West at the 1.0-mile Phoenix (Arizona) Raceway.

Friday, November 7, Craftsman Truck Series Lucas Oil 150; starting time: 7:30 p.m. (EST); TV: Speed Channel.

Saturday, November 8, Nationwide Series Hefty Odor Block 200; starting time: 4 p.m. (EST); TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, November 9, Sprint Cup Series Checker Auto Parts 500; starting time: 3 p.m. (EST); TV: ABC.

Racing trivia question: What year did Rusty Wallace win his Cup championship?

Last week's question: Will Greg Zipadelli, the current crew chief for Tony Stewart, leave Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season along with Stewart? Answer. No. He will stay with Joe Gibbs Racing as crew chief for Joey Logano.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@earthlink.net.

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