Edwards wins rain-delayed Auto Club 500
Carl Edwards might adopt the old Mama's and Papa's song, “Monday, Monday... so good to me!”
He won Monday's postponed NASCAR Sprint Cup race after two days of trying at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.
Edwards took the lead for the final time with 14 laps to go and drove away from runner-up Jimmie Johnson and third-place finisher Jeff Gordon.
The 500-mile race over the rain-swept, two-mile track tried the patience of NASCAR's finest drivers and teams. They started the event Sunday afternoon and didn't finish until Monday afternoon. Mother Nature, indeed, threw unpredictable knuckleballs at the teams throughout the weekend.
One of numerous storms forced a halt to the event after 87 laps Saturday night and all attempts to dry the track failed, forcing officials to postpone the conclusion until Monday.
Sunshine finally broke through and Edwards wound up at the end of a rainbow in victory lane.
He raced with the leaders throughout the race and chased Johnson down after a caution flag with 19 laps remaining bunched the field.
The 11th caution of the day was caused by Jeremy Mayfield, and both Johnson and Gordon beat Edwards out of the pits after changing four tires. The Missouri native ran high, wide and handsome through the turns over the final laps, reeling in Johnson. NASCAR's defending champion actually wore out his right rear tire trying to stay ahead.
Finishing fourth behind Edwards, Johnson and Gordon was young Kyle Busch, who won the Craftsman Truck race Friday night, and was a factor in Monday's race. Matt Kenseth finished fifth, trailed by Martin Truex, Jr., Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman.
Rain created problems throughout the weekend with NASCAR's Nationwide Series event postponed from Saturday until after the Sprint Cup race Monday.
The delayed start was further delayed once they cranked the cars after Michael Waltrip's machine spewed oil on the track, forcing cleanup crews back on the track again.
Gordon jumped out front at the start and sped away to a three-second lead. Denny Hamlin spun and smacked the retaining wall to bring out the afternoon's first caution period.
On the restart, Johnson was out front briefly before Gordon took over again.
Just one lap later, a multi-car crash knocked several contenders out of the race. Casey Mears lost control of his Chevy between turns three and four and slid across in front of teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., knocking Earnhardt into the outside wall. Sam Hornish, Jr., plowed into Mears' car, turning it on its side. Reed Sorensen was also involved.
Quick work by the Speedway safety crew doused a flash fire on Mears' car. None of the drivers were injured.
NASCAR stopped the race (red flag) to clean up the track. After an hour delay to repair seeping problems on the track, the race was restarted with Gordon still in the lead. Only 24 laps had been completed.
On the restart, it was Gordon, Johnson, Stewart, Kahne, Biffle, Edwards, Burton, Montoya, Ragan and Newman.
Johnson passed Gordon on lap 34 for the lead. Gordon took it back just a few laps later.
Another caution slowed the field at lap 43. On this restart, Gordon shot to the front like a rocket. Edwards moved past Johnson for second.
Joe Nemechek had a flat tire and spun just two laps after the restart, bringing out the fifth caution flag.
Robby Gordon spun a few laps later to bring out the sixth caution period. Elliott Sadler spun to avoid Gordon and hit the outside wall.
Biffle held the lead on the restart with Johnson in tow. Gordon was third and Kyle Busch fourth.
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