During a round of green flag pit stops, Edwards was caught speeding while exiting pit road. The distance between the final pit stall and the final timing line, where Edwards was caught speeding, was a topic of discussion between Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne just prior to the race.
“We talked about it before the race,” said Edwards. “We looked at the pit road speeding lines and that last line Bob (Osborne) and I actually discussed the last section – it’s 25-feet, 8-inches long – and we talked about that one and how I was not gonna speed through it and I just blasted right through it.”
The first speeding penalty of 2011 for Edwards was accompanied by a pass through penalty during the long green flag run, putting him one lap down in 28th.
“That’s about as small as you can feel in a race car,” said Edwards.
Edwards persevered through the rare mistake to put himself in position for the lucky dog, which he eventually was rewarded when the eighth caution of the day flew at lap 301.
“As frustrated as I am with myself for messing that up, I’m really, really grateful for the gift that was given to us with that caution and the ability to come back up there.”
Edwards restarted in 21st, the last car on the lead lap, but spent no time mired back in the field. Edwards cracked the top 10 with just 50 to go in Sunday’s race.
During the final set of pit stops at lap 353, Edwards and crew opted to only take two right side tires and fuel. Edwards restarted sixth but quickly jumped past Kevin Harvick to crack the top five. Edwards coasted by Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch for third, but would progress no further, finishing just behind Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.
“The thing that was really important to me was my guys sticking behind me because they had every right to be really, really upset with me, so it ended up to be a good finish,” said Edwards. “I had a good time racing there with Jimmie (Johnson) the last couple of laps. That was fun.
“My buddy Carl Fredrickson had this book at his house and it said that you don’t succeed by being the guy that does everything perfect, you succeed by being the guy that minimizes the mistakes because everyone is going to make mistakes.”
Despite showing glimpses of charm and a positive outlook, Edwards knew he would continue to beat himself up over the mistake.
“I’m gonna think about it. I’m gonna think about it all the way home. I’ll lay in bed and my wife is gonna yell at me and tell me to get over it and that’s just how it goes.”
One thing that may help Edwards cope with his wrongdoing is the fact that he now shares the points lead with Harvick heading into Kansas, a track where he has three top fives and six top 10′s in eight career starts.