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Edwards wins rain-delayed Auto Club 500

NASCAR
Monday, February 25, 2008

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Carl Edwards does his traditional  backflip after winning

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.
 
A seventh caution slowed the field at 83 laps when raindrops pelted the cars. NASCAR put the red flag out for the second time when the track became totally wet at 87 laps. A wet track delayed the continuation of the race until Monday.

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 9 99 Carl Edwards Ford Dish Network 190/5 249 Running
2 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 180/10 249 Running
3 2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont Cromax Pro 170/5 249 Running
4 22 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 165/5 249 Running
5 4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Carhartt 160/5 249 Running
6 11 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 150/0 249 Running
7 6 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 146/0 249 Running
8 10 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 147/5 249 Running
9 20 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 143/5 249 Running
10 13 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Samsung HDTV / ALLTEL 139/5 249 Running
11 39 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 130/0 249 Running
12 8 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 132/5 249 Running
13 36 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 124/0 249 Running
14 24 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance So. Cal. 121/0 249 Running
15 14 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 123/5 249 Running
16 16 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet Principal Financial Group / Mark Martin's 700th start 115/0 249 Running
17 32 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditRep ort.com 112/0 249 Running
18 28 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam 114/5 249 Running
19 3 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet DIRECTV 106/0 249 Running
20 21 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Wrigley's Juicy Fruit 103/0 249 Running
21 31 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Haas Automation 100/0 249 Running
22 18 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 102/5 249 Running
23 40 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 94/0 248 Running
24 27 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge U2 3D / Best Buy 91/0 248 Running
25 19 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Hamburger Helper "My Hometown Helper" 88/0 248 Running
26 38 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie 85/0 248 Running
27 29 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 82/0 247 Running
28 41 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 79/0 247 Running
29 25 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 76/0 247 Running
30 34 22 Dave Blaney Toyota CAT Paving Products 73/0 247 Running
31 17 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet Coors Light 70/0 247 Running
32 26 40 Dario Franchitti * Dodge Target 72/5 247 Running
33 37 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 69/5 246 Running
34 43 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row / DenverMattress.com 61/0 245 Running
35 42 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Front Row Motorsports 63/5 244 Running
36 30 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Yates Racing 55/0 241 Running
37 23 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Energizer e2 Lithium 52/0 239 Running
38 35 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 49/0 235 Running
39 33 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Haas Automation 46/0 230 Running
40 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 43/0 202 Running
41 12 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 40/0 192 Running
42 5 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 37/0 20 Out of Race
43 7 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 34/0 20

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