Carl Edwards – as he often does when he comes oh-so-close to a victory – spent the first few minutes after Sunday’s race wondering what he could have done differently. In other words, should he have wrecked Kevin Harvick?
“I didn’t want to wreck Kevin, I just wanted to move him out of the way and it just ended up being a drag race,” Edwards said after his photo finish loss to Harvick at Phoenix International Raceway.
“I should have hit him a little bit harder … maybe. I drove up to him and thought to myself, ‘How hard do I want to hit him?’ And I hit him hard enough to move him.
“We had a faster car at the end. I took my shot. It’s frustrating but it could have gone the other way.”
Respect among rivals
While Edwards was speaking to the media on pit road, Harvick drove by on his way to Victory Lane. Edwards waved to Harvick to stop, and he shook Harvick’s hand as he leaned in to speak with him.
Asked what he said, Edwards replied, “I told him it was fun. Good job. It was pretty neat.”
Edwards and Harvick have had their share of on and off-track incidents during their respective careers. Because of that, Harvick said he knew what was in store when it became clear Edwards was going to have a shot to get by him on the last lap.
Harvick "would have done the same thing"
“I was fully expecting everything that I got, but I just needed to be able to get knocked up the track far enough to be able to put the throttle back down,” Harvick said. “I would have done the same thing, and really after the race that’s exactly what we said to each other. That’s really what NASCAR racing is all about.
“You’re coming to the checkered flag and he wants to win for his team and I want to win for my team, and there’s a lot on the line. It’s definitely the way that things should have been done.”
Despite coming up short for the win, Edwards was genuinely excited about his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team’s performance on Sunday.
I wish we had about 12 more inches but if we can run like that every week, we’re going to be just fine
Edwards crew chief Dave Rogers
He credited his crew chief, Dave Rogers, with a pit call that provided him an opportunity to race for the win when it looked in the closing laps he was going to finish a distant second to Harvick.
“Dave is the man. He did a good job. My guys gave me an opportunity to win by pitting there (on the last caution),” Edwards said.
Rogers deflected any praise and said it was a “team effort” that produced the chance at a victory against one of the best drivers ever to compete at the Phoenix track.
“My engineers gave me great feedback for our pit calls. The pit crew was outstanding and the driver drove his butt off. I’m proud of that team effort,” Rogers said.
“It was a lot fun racing for the win. I wish we had about 12 more inches but if we can run like that every week, we’re going to be just fine.”