Fuel error costs Edwards a Phoenix sweep for 2013 (VIDEO)

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Carl Edwards lost out on becoming the sixth different driver to win consecutive races at Phoenix International Raceway when his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford ran dry with two laps to go while leading today’s Advocare 500.

Edwards, who won this past March at PIR, wound up finishing 21st while Kevin Harvick went on to the victory after passing him off Turn 4 as the white flag waved. Afterwards, Edwards said that the near-miss came down to a fuel miscalculation.

“I thought we were a lap to the good,” he said. “I was saving just a little bit of fuel, but obviously not enough. I don’t know if I could have saved a lap and kept Kevin behind me in hindsight, but that’s a tough way to lose one there. We haven’t run out of fuel in a long time.

“I had no clue we were gonna run out of fuel. That was a surprise to me. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] talked to me about saving a little bit to have some extra, and I did that a couple of laps, but Kevin closed in and was obviously not saving fuel.”

The error sent Edwards all the way to 13th in the championship, last among the Chase contenders. It was a tough ending to an afternoon that saw him almost play a role in changing the title battle between leader Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.

On Lap 163, Edwards was stuck in the middle between Harvick on the inside and Johnson on the outside as they went into Turn 1. During the three-wide battle, Edwards slid up into Johnson and made contact, forcing Johnson to chase his car and keep it out of the fence.

The incident caused Johnson to drop to 26th, but he would charge back to third by the checkered flag. Combined with Kenseth’s chaotic afternoon, Johnson now holds a 28-point lead in the championship with one race to go – next Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

After the race, Edwards sought out Johnson to apologize for the run-in and the two competitors shook hands.

“Yeah, I definitely did not mean to hit him,” Edwards said. “[Johnson] did a heck of a job saving it and I’m just glad he saved it. I did not want to be part of the championship in that manner.”

Simon Pagenaud has words with Gabby Chaves after Honda Indy GP of Alabama

Photos: IndyCar
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The rain didn’t stop following the conclusion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, and neither did the jousting between drivers.

An angry Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud confronted Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves after the race, complaining that Chaves would not let Pagenaud get past him in the closing laps.

Instead of ending up with a hoped-for Top 5, Pagenaud wound up with a ninth-place finish. Chaves, meanwhile, finished 17th, two laps down.

The confrontation turned into a battle of words and profanity between the two drivers, as captured on Twitter by AutoWeek’s Matt Weaver.

Afterward – and after their tempers cooled down somewhat – both Pagenaud and Chaves gave their sides of the confrontation to NBCSN.

Gabby Chaves

First, here’s Pagenaud’s take on things:

“We had a really good race going,” Pagenaud said. “I think we potentially could have been top 5. I was really frustrated with Gabby. He was two laps down and I was stuck behind him, which gave an opportunity to (Scott) Dixon as I was trying to do everything I could to make it happen.

“It’s a real shame because when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. You’ll have better days later, but you want to have everybody on your side when you have a good day. At the moment, he doesn’t have me on his side, let me tell you. It’s a real shame.”

When asked what exactly he said to Chaves, Pagenaud demurred.

“Driver’s stuff,” he said with a slight smile. “We’ve all been there. I’ve been in his position. My side, I played it smart. It is what it is.

“I can’t comment for him. You can ask him the question. I’m not going to make a deal about it, it’s just a shame it ruined my race. We’ll come back stronger. It’s Indy soon, so that’ll put a smile on my face.”

NBCSN then caught up with Chaves for his side of the story.

 

“It’s a tough situation, we had to restart (the rain-delayed race) a lap down,” Chaves said. “Our whole strategy depends on trying to get a yellow and holding our position. Some guys think that the track belongs only to them, they’re the only guys on-track.

“Everyone else who was faster at that point – we were only one lap down to the leader, so we’re still on our strategy and don’t know what’s going to happen – as soon as they got right up next to me on the lead lap, I let them go.

“Simon was the only one who couldn’t drive up to me. I understand his frustration, but he’s the one who has to save fuel to make his strategy work, that’s not our fault, right?”

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