The story of the 2013 Crown Royal 400 from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is going to be track position. On a day where being out front was key to victory, Carl Edwards found himself stuck in traffic and not able to get the clean air he needed. When the opportunity arose, Edwards made a choice that cost him on the final restart.
“The early part of the race went real well. We had track position. This whole event track position was key. It was very difficult for me to pass people. We lost our track position on the restart and Tony made it four wide. I made the decision to not go down there and wreck everybody and that cost us a lot of track position. We made it back to 13th. I am proud of my guys. They brought a really good race car but we just really struggled on some parts of the track that we don’t normally struggle on,” Edwards told reporters after the race.
Also playing against Edwards was debris that was swirling around the speedway. Many teams ran issues when paper and other debris got onto the grilles of their cars. Increasing oil temperatures and risk of engine failure hampered some, including Edwards.
“We had paper on my grille and we couldn’t get that off. Fortunately it didn’t heat up too much so that was good. If I would have had a teammate around, after everything we went through with that before, we would have been fine. It was pretty interesting at the beginning. You were actually driving the race car and dodging the trash out there,” said Edwards.
The follow the leader situation has a lot to do with the new car, the track, and the ever popular aerodynamics of a stock car. It is a situation that normally plagues the “cookie cutter” mile and a half race tracks that once a driver gets out front, he stays there because of how hard it is for others to pass. Edwards looked to Wednesday’s Camping World Truck Series race run at the dirt track Eldora Speedway as an example of what can be done.
“My opinion is that we saw it Wednesday night. If you are not racing aerodynamic devices and the tire and track can interact so that the car can slide around a little more I think you will see more side by side racing. I have been preaching that a long time. I am not an aerodynamicist, that is just what I see,” commented Edwards.
He further explained that some drivers have been able to figure how to race the characteristics of the new car and a softer tire might be the answer to improving the races at Indianapolis and other tracks.
“Here is the thing guys, when you rely on downforce and your car is going 200 mph and everything has to be perfect and there is a car up there in front of you that disrupts that air it just becomes difficult. There were guys back in 2008 where I was the only guy that could pass people. Right now it seems like the 48 is able to make it work. I don’t know that there is a fundamental problem with the car but I would be really curious to see what no front splitter and a really tiny rear spoiler would do. I think it would allow Goodyear to make a tire that is softer so that it would fall off more. I think you would see those great races like we saw at Fontana. That was the track that showed me it isn’t just down force but the way the tire interacts with the race track. That was one of the best races we have ever had,” explained Edwards.
By finishing 13th, Edwards maintained his third place in the Sprint Cup Series standings. He was able to gain ground on second place Clint Bowyer, who finished 20th, but lost ground to point leader Jimmie Johnson who finished second.