Carl Edwards on blocking Joey Logano: ‘I just risked too much’
For Carl Edwards, blocking Joey Logano on a restart with 10 laps to go and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship on the line was his only play.
But he had envisioned it playing out much differently than it did on Sunday night in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
On the restart with 10 to go, with Edwards starting in second and fellow Championship 4 driver Logano lined up directly behind him, Logano got a terrific restart and stuck the nose of his No. 22 Team Penske Ford to the inside of Edwards’ No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Edwards went low to block and a wicked wreck ensued.
Although Logano was able to drive through it, Edwards car – as well as his title hopes – ended up totally destroyed.
“That’s 100 percent on me,” Edwards told his team over the radio.
“He came down right in front of me,” Logano told his own team.
After being able to see the television replay, Edwards amended his initial assessment to say that he thought the blame for the incident was “shared” – an assessment Logano did not disagree with after the race was completed.
“I think it was just racing,” Edwards said. “The way I had it figured is first of all that was the race of my life up to that point. That was a lot of fun and Joey was so good on the short run. I don’t know how he got that restart. It was a really good restart.
“I thought everything was going to work out and (Edwards’ spotter) Jason (Hedlesky) told me (Logano) was looking low and he told me basically he was there. I knew what Jason was saying and I just pushed the issue as far as I could because I figured that was the race there.”
So did Logano, who said he knew his car was great on short runs but likely would not get another opportunity to pass the No. 19 if he didn’t attempt to seize the chance right then.
“I understand why he had to throw the block, and he understands why I had to make the move, because that was for the win,” Logano said. “That was the only shot that I had. That was for the race win. It's 10 to go; what do you expect? It's for a championship.”
Edwards credited Logano with timing the restart just right.
“Joey just timed it perfectly,” Edwards said. “He moved down, I thought I could feel him a little and I just thought that – I was probably a little optimistic, but I thought I could clear him or force him to lift.
“I just thought I had just a little more time, but he drove down as far as a guy could be expected to drive down and that’s how it ended.”
It’s how Edwards’ season ended as well. He won three races, including one at Texas with his back against the wall in the Round of 8 Chase elimination playoffs to earn his spot in the Championship 4.
Then his pit crew put him in position to win the title by getting him off pit road first among the title contenders prior to the fateful restart with 10 to go Sunday.
“They put it in my hands. That’s all you can ask for,” Edwards said. “(Crew chief) Dave Rogers, my guys, everybody, they did a good job. It didn’t work out. This is life. We performed well. We did our best.
“I just risked too much and Dave told me before this race, ‘It’s a pretty big reward and remember risk gets reward’ — and I just had to push it. I couldn’t go to bed tonight and think that I gave (Logano) that lane.
In a classy move after the incident, as he walked to the infield care center to get checked out medically, Edwards stopped at the No. 22 team’s pit box and shook hands with every member of Logano’s team.
“I just wanted to make sure he knew that was just racing in my opinion and that’s hard racing and I wished them luck,” Edwards said.
Edwards said that despite the difficult, jarring, sudden and unexpected finish to his 2016 season, he’s already thinking ahead optimistically to 2017.
“I am telling you this team is going to be on fire next year. You watch out. This is going to be awesome,” he said.