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Edwards prevails at Bristol

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by Pete McCole
August 25, 2007

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Carl Edwards
CIA Stock Photo

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Carl Edwards led the final 128 laps to notch his second victory of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup season, holding off Kasey Kahne to win Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Edwards led a career-high 182 laps to post his sixth career victory - his first at Bristol – a secure himself a spot in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

Edwards grabbed the lead with 166 laps to go after Kahne got caught up behind a lapped car, allowing Edwards and Earnhardt, Jr. to slip by. Edwards re-gained the lead following a round of pit stops and took held the point for the remaining laps to beat Kahne by 1.405 seconds.

"This is the biggest win of my career,” said Edwards. “To win the night race at Bristol is huge and I can't thank (crew chief) Bob Osborne enough for making the right calls.

“We were dropping back at the beginning and he used everything he knew and all the engineering and everything that he could muster to make some adjustments and the car just kept getting better and better. We had a blast.”

Clint Bowyer was third, followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart.

Kahne and Edwards easily had the cars to beat, combining to lead 487 of the 500 laps.

Coming off a victory in Friday night’s Busch Series event, Kahne started on the pole and led the first 37 laps before trading the top spot with Edwards. Kahne would re-gain the lead on lap 66, leading the next 270 laps with Edwards and Earnhardt in pursuit.

Encountering lapped traffic on lap 332, Kahne got boxed in, allowing Edwards and Earnhardt, Jr. to slip by.

After completing his final pit stop on lap 360, Edwards regained the top spot and held off Kahne through the final five restarts for the victory.

“We couldn’t (catch up to Edwards),” said Kahne. “Those guys did a good job. They beat us to the end. We dominated I think the first half. The car was really good. We just got a little bit, the car felt good still at the end. He was just cutting through the center a touch better than me and we ran second.”

“Those restarts were just wearing out my nerves there,” said Edwards. “That took about three or four years off of my life, with the cautions and knowing we were gonna have restart after restart, but to win this race is huge.”

Although Edwards locked himself in the Chase, the battle for the 12th and final transfer spot continued to heat up.

After a couple of weeks of bad luck, Earnhardt, Jr. looked to turn things around and Bristol in hopes of chasing down Kurt Busch for the 12th and final transfer spot in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, and answered the call with a fifth-place showing, but only gained five points on Busch, who finished just one spot behind in sixth to hold onto 12th in the standings.

Earnhardt now trails Busch by 158 with two races to go before the cutoff for the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup.

“I want to win. If I can't get into the Chase, let's win a race. Let's do something,” said Earnhardt, Jr. “When we don't make (the Chase) everybody makes a big deal out of it. They talk about it pre-race, they talk about it post-race for a couple weeks and it is a bummer. It's a bummer when you see that and have to watch that and read it and what not.

“I'll be more ticked off if I don't win a race this year because I've run good all year. We've had so many opportunities, you know? And you won't credit for running fifth and blowing up, running up second blowing up. You just won't."

Saturday night’s race also had a serious impact on the frontrunners in the point’s standings.

Series points leader Jeff Gordon got caught a lap down during a round of green-flag pit stops and found himself playing catch-up for the rest of the night, getting collected in a wreck before finally getting back on the lead lap to finish 19th, one spot worse than were he started.

Denny Hamlin, second in points behind Gordon, started the race from the rear of the field after an engine change, only to have his night ended after the replacement motor gave out on lap 211, recording the second DNF of his career and knocking him back one place in the standings to third behind Stewart.

Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, third and sixth in points respectively coming into Saturday’s race, were involved in the biggest wreck of the night on lap 452 after Ricky Rudd spun, collecting Johnson, Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and David Gilliland. Kenseth was done of the night, finishing 39th and dropping one spot to fourth in the points behind Hamlin.

Saturday night’s race was the first at Bristol since the track was re-surfaced, replacing the old asphalt with concrete. The new surface seemed to open up a higher groove for drivers to run, and the end result was not your typical Bristol as the first 126 laps ran caution free as drivers didn’t have to apply the bump-and-run as often.

“It was kind of nice not to have to move people out of the way, that was what was fun tonight ” said Stewart. “You could run all over the racetrack, that was what was so much fun about it. I can tell you, I don't know what it was like from the outside of the car to watch it, but at least from the inside it was fun. You could race. Guys weren't running over each other to pass each other

“You could work the outside, you could work the inside, you could go and race people here tonight instead of the normal just bump people out of the way and go on by. It was fun to race like that.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 6 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 190/5 500 Running
2 1 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge McDonald's / Dodge Dealers 180/10 500 Running
3 15 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 165/0 500 Running
4 23 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 160/0 500 Running
5 17 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 160/5 500 Running
6 19 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 155/5 500 Running
7 7 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 151/5 500 Running
8 22 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 142/0 500 Running
9 20 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 143/5 500 Running
10 34 16 Greg Biffle Ford Dish Network 134/0 500 Running
11 25 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 130/0 500 Running
12 10 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing 127/0 500 Running
13 40 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 124/0 500 Running
14 36 40 David Stremme Dodge Coors Light 121/0 500 Running
15 29 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 118/0 500 Running
16 13 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Pennzoil Platinum 115/0 500 Running
17 2 42 Juan Montoya * Dodge Texaco / Havoline 112/0 500 Running
18 11 10 Scott Riggs Dodge Valvoline / Stanley Tools 109/0 500 Running
19 18 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 111/5 500 Running
20 24 7 Robby Gordon Ford Camping World / RVs.com 108/5 500 Running
21 9 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 100/0 499 Running
22 30 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 97/0 498 Running
23 16 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 94/0 498 Running
24 41 15 Paul Menard * Chevrolet Turtle Wax Ice / Menards 91/0 498 Running
25 26 21 Bill Elliott Ford U.S. Air Force 88/0 498 Running
26 3 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Industrial Tools 85/0 498 Running
27 39 66 Jeff Green Chevrolet Samsung 82/0 498 Running
28 42 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 79/0 498 Running
29 21 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 76/0 497 Running
30 27 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's 73/0 497 Running
31 5 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 70/0 496 Running
32 32 45 Kenny Wallace Dodge Wells Fargo 67/0 496 Running
33 14 4 Ward Burton Chevrolet Miccosukee / Food City / State Water Heaters 64/0 494 Running
34 33 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS Centennial 61/0 494 Running
35 43 84 A.J. Allmendinger * Toyota Red Bull 58/0 491 Running
36 35 01 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 55/0 485 Running
37 31 36 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 360 OTC 52/0 481 Running
38 8 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Snickers 49/0 478 Running
39 12 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 46/0 452 Running
40 28 49 John Andretti Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 43/0 416 Running
41 4 6 David Ragan * Ford AAA 40/0 414 Running
42 38 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 37/0 280 Running
43 37 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Freight 34/0 209 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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