Did Carl Edwards care if he didn’t stick the landing (#RuhRoh) before heading for Victory Lane after ending a 70-race winless drought? Not especially.
“I wasn’t sure about the back-flip, to be honest,” Edwards explained with a smile wider than the 1-mile oval at PIR. “I really don’t care if I fell down though, it doesn’t really matter. I was having a pretty good day. I can do these interviews from a hospital bed if I have to. It just feels good to win this race.”
And it was hard not to feel good for him. As one of the media guys on hand covering the second race of the NASCAR season, I’ll remember not only how Edwards used PIR to snap another extended winless drought, but how he doesn’t believe for a minute that it’s some sort of fluke.
“This is my first track that I ever drove a pavement race on in 2001. Ran the Copper World Classic here,” Edwards shared. “My family took a huge gamble. We did not have the money to do it, pretty much sold everything and gambled on everything. We made the race. And that was a very special, very big moment in my career. And so, from there until now, it just seems like there’s always good things happening in Phoenix.”
Not nearly as positive would be some of the reaction to the new Gen 6 car and the brand of racing at PIR.
“It did not race as good as our Generation 5 cars,” Denny Hamlin said after losing a near photo finish to Jimmie Johnson for second place. “Teams haven’t figured out how to get the aero balance right. Because, right now, you just run single file and you just cannot get around the guy in front of you.”
As for Danica Patrick, her No. 10 Chevrolet blew a front tire and crashed into the wall. The Scottsdale resident was done with about 100 laps left.
“Whenever those right-fronts go, they always hit hard because you don’t broadside, you hit more straight on,” said Patrick, who was cleared by the medical center and finished 39th. “I’m fine, so NASCAR is doing a good job at safety.”