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Thomas Bowles · Saturday May 27, 2006
The fuel didn’t quite get to Casey Mears’ engine for just one turn. That’s all Carl Edwards needed to take advantage.
Edwards took control when Mears had a fuel pickup problem on the final green flag restart with five laps remaining to win the Carquest 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. J.J. Yeley, Casey Mears, and Martin Truex, Jr. rounded out the Top 5 finishers.
Mears and Edwards were clearly the class of the field in the closing stages, with Mears inheriting the lead after deciding to stay out and run the final 88 laps of the race on fuel. Through several caution flags, all other lead lap cars found their way to pit road, and Mears found his way to the front and appeared to have clear sailing except for a last-ditch challenge from Edwards. Mears still appeared poised to hold Edwards off, until the final caution flag flew on lap 192 for Mark Martin’s blown engine.
“I had a plan,” said Edwards about coming to the final restart. “I was really gonna try to get him there and juke him a little bit on that last restart. I was sad to see him lose it that way (with the fuel problem).”
“While we were on the straightaway it just didn’t pick up enough fuel,” said Mears about the restart that cost him the race. “It starved itself for fuel on the restart…man, I don’t know what I have to do to win a race.”
Polesitter Kenseth led most of the race’s first half and appeared to be the man to beat, but blew his engine and was out of the race by lap 136.
“It actually blew up under yellow in the middle of three and four coming for the green,” said Kenseth. “We had the car, we just couldn’t get the finish.”
Meanwhile, points leader Kevin Harvick had to make an extra pit stop under green for loose lugnuts and went two laps down, but got them back over the second half of the event to finish on the lead lap in 8th place. His point lead now stands at 348 over new second place man Carl Edwards.
TURN FOUR TOUGH ON DRIVERS, CARS
Turn four was established as “calamity corner” early, with two cautions for separate one-car incidents within the first ten laps. Both Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart smacked the wall by themselves coming out of Turn 4 hard; both drivers ended up being transported to a local hospital for evaluation. Stewart was complaining of right shoulder pain, while McMurray may have suffered a possible concussion.
After that, there was a run of over 100 laps of green flag racing, but once the third caution came out for Mike Wallace’s spin, it was back to cold tires on restarts, and drivers kept losing control as they just didn’t have enough grip on their Goodyears. Clint Bowyer, Mark McFarland, and Greg Biffle were among drivers that simply just lost it coming off of turn four to cause several of the race’s ten cautions. Randy LaJoie’s car also blew a right front tire at the turn four exit, with debris from his car coming over the catchfence and sending two spectators to the hospital with minor injuries.
“To me, I think it’s just the race track,” said J.J. Yeley when asked after the race. “There’s a lot more banking in turn 1 and 2 (then 3 and 4). Guys might have been a little bit too tight having too much wheel input in their car and you’re asking these tires that really don’t want to give any kind of grip to give you side bite and forward bite at the same time. It’s just too difficult to do both. The Busch car, you have to hustle so much where with the Cup car, you’re on the throttle a lot earlier"¦these tires are just not very forgiving.”
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