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.”