Critical pit stop made difference for Edwards

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Carl Edwards’ win in today’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway was set up by an important pit stop at Lap 238.

Edwards was behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. when the caution flag came out for a Lap 236 crash involving David Gilliland. But on pit road just two laps later, Edwards managed to beat everyone else out while Earnhardt was blocked as he was leaving by Casey Mears.

He wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the race.

“[Earnhardt] must have had the timing lines figured out really well, because I was at the max speed that I could go and he shot up there,” Edwards recalled. “I thought, ‘Oh man, I can’t go any faster. I’m gonna get a penalty.’ And Casey was up there and I thought, ‘I’m not exactly sure how this is gonna work out,’ and he turned left. Dale could have run me up into the wall and spun Casey out, and I could tell he thought about it. I think he did because there was that little pause and I thought, ‘He’s gonna do it.'”

“And then he stood on the brakes and kept from tearing all the cars up, so that had to be very difficult for him because I think we all knew right then that that could be the race. I’d like to think I was gonna pass him anyway, but I was a little nervous.”

While Edwards certainly appreciated Earnhardt not causing a mess on pit road, the latter was still, in his words, “frustrated” about a potential victory going by the boards.

“I was on the inside of [Edwards] on pit road and I think I could have beat him off, but [Mears] was trying to get in his stall and I had to lift for that,” said Earnhardt, who finished fifth after leading 47 laps on the afternoon. “And I knew right then…My opportunity to win the race was right there.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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