By Jim Peltz
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Carl Edwards never saw it coming.
Edwards was poised to win Sunday’s NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway when his No. 99 Ford ran out of fuel as he entered the last lap, enabling Kevin Harvick to win.
“I had no clue we were going to run out,” Edwards said.
His crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, “talked to me about saving a little bit to have some extra, and I did that a couple of laps, but Kevin closed in and was obviously not saving fuel,” Edwards said.
Edwards, who coasted to a 21st-place finish, said “we did everything right, we just miscalculated that one part and that’s NASCAR. You’ve got to be perfect.”
Edwards also bumped Jimmie Johnson at one point, which, had Johnson not been able to save his car from hitting the wall, could have jeopardized Johnson’s title hopes.
“I definitely did not mean to hit him,” Edwards said. “I’m just glad he saved it.”
Earnhardt finishes strong
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth after a roller-coaster day.
He started 11th and was running sixth when his No. 88 Chevrolet developed a vibration after a pit stop.
It was a loose wheel, forcing Earnhardt to pit again and dropping him deep into the field, one lap down to the leaders. But Earnhardt gradually clawed his way back.
“We had a fast car,” Earnhardt said, adding that a later pit-stop strategy by his crew chief, Steve Letarte, helped get him back into the top 10.
“I was really happy with the way we were able to rebound,” Earnhardt said.
Patrick’s long day
Danica Patrick had another rough race as she prepares to wrap up her rookie Sprint Cup season.
After starting 32nd, she quickly fell two laps down to the leaders and then was involved in a multi-car wreck that damaged the rear of her No. 10 Chevrolet.
After repairs, she finished 33rd. Patrick entered the race with an average finish of 26th this season.