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'Subway' car wins 'Subway' race in Phoenix

Edwards beats Johnson and Hamlin
Sunday, March 03, 2013

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Edwards and his Subway in Victory Lane.  Subway, the sponsor, was of course very happy
Getty Images for NASCAR
Everything happens in NASCAR for a reason they say and today the Subway sponsored car of Carl Edwards won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway.  Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson banged fenders with Denny Hamlin's Toyota coming off the 4th turn to take 2nd by a mere 6 inches around the outside. 

Brad Keselowski was 4th and ran out of fuel as he crossed the finish line in his Penske Ford. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-5.

Edwards converted a clutch green-white-checkered restart into his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory in almost two years.

In beating Jimmie Johnson to the finish line by 1.024 seconds, Edwards broke a winless streak that had reached 70 races, dating to Mar. 6, 2011 at Las Vegas. Remarkably, Edwards broke another 70-race drought at the one-mile track in the Sonoran desert when he won at Phoenix in November 2010.

Behind Edwards and Johnson, Denny Hamlin ran third, making the most of a daredevil move that cut the backstretch dogleg on the last lap and got his No. 11 Toyota past the No. 2 Ford of reigning series champion Brad Keselowski, who came home fourth.

Edwards leads the Subway race in the Subway car over Johnson.  Subway, the sponsor, was of course very happy and will now want to stay in NASCAR for a long time
Getty Images for NASCAR
Edwards led 122 of 316 laps to end a 70-race winless skid dating back to the March 6, 2011 event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. His second triumph on the 1-mile track in the desert was his 20th in NASCAR's top series.

"I don’t even know where to start," said Edwards. "I have a lot of people to thank; first and foremost Jack Roush and of these guys at Roush Fenway."

With a solid lead late in the race, Edwards looked to have the victory in hand before a late caution set up a wild green-white-checkered finish. However the field appeared to have little for the No. 99 Subway Ford as Edwards pulled out once again and never looked back.

"(Crew chief) Jimmy Fennig is the man," added Edwards. "This pit crew is unreal; they won this race for us. This is huge. It’s a Subway race – we won it and we are back.

"I’m telling you we are back," said Edwards. "This is going to be good. Whatever it is you are doing out there, don’t lose hope. You just keep digging and things can work out. This is awesome – one of the coolest wins of my life."

"When you're struggling, it seems like time slows down," Edwards said after being told of Hamlin's "relevant" comment. "You're working harder, you're trying more, you're questioning yourself more. ... (Last year) was one of the longest years of my life, to work that hard and not get the victories.

"I'm very, very happy to be back in the mix here. A victory is huge for so many reasons. Last year we didn't make the Chase. For me to sit home, while everybody was at the Chase stuff in Vegas—that was a little bit of a shock to me. I did not like that at all.

"So to get a victory helps us be in a better position for the Chase. It just feels good to win. So, yeah, I hope  Denny's right. I hope we're relevant or more than relevant all year. I hope we dominate this thing."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth, losing his winning chances when he spun his tires on the penultimate restart on Lap 243. Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton rounded out the top 10.

Pole-starter Mark Martin led the first 49 laps before surrendering the lead in a round of yellow-flag pit stops. He lost a lap just 12 laps later during an unscheduled pit stop to change right-side tires, but regained his lead-lap standing as the free-pass beneficiary when Dave Blaney crashed on Lap 64.

Martin returned to the lead by staying out after getting off cycle in pit stops. He wound up 21st.

Kyle Busch, who dropped to the rear of the field at the start because of an unauthorized pre-race engine change, lost a lap after a solo spin and brush of the wall in the 48th lap. After bringing out the second caution period of the race, Busch recovered to finish 23rd as the last driver on the lead lap.

Danica Patrick, who made history in her eighth-place performance last weekend in the Daytona 500, was uninjured after smacking the wall hard when a right-front tire exploded in the 186th lap. Her car collected the No. 34 of David Ragan, ending her day with damage on every side of her Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. She finished 39th.

"It was a little unexpected," Patrick said after she was evaluated and released from the infield care center. "I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left. I'm fine. The cars and the tracks are so safe. As a driver that's a nice feeling. It doesn't change the fact that we aren't going to get any points really coming out of today, and it would have been nice."

Edwards No. 99 Ford Fusion led 67 straight green-flag laps after the restart on Lap 243, but Ken Schrader's crash on Lap 309 sent the race to overtime and gave the crew chiefs of the leading cars nervous moments as they tried to recalculate fuel mileage.

The top-14 cars stayed out for a restart on Lap 315, and Edwards had enough gas to complete two laps and win the race.

On the last two restarts, Johnson felt Edwards played fast and loose with the zone, delineated by red marks on the wall, within which the leader is required to accelerate.

"I felt like Carl didn't follow the restart protocol and was slower than the pace car on his last two restarts, and it gives the leader a huge advantage when that happens," Johnson said. "You're supposed to wait until you get between the two lines and take off, and this was all going on before (the restart zone)."

Naturally enough, Edwards had a completely different view of the restart. Though Johnson said he made a point of maintaining pace car speed, Edwards thought Johnson was speeding up as the cars approached the start.

"Usually the guy in second hangs back a little bit, and he pulled up there and I thought, 'Why's he doing that?'" Edwards said. "Yeah, maybe I was slowing down, but I wasn't trying to. I thought he was speeding up. I thought it was pretty genius what he was doing, because it kind of got me off of my game.

"But then, when I went, I think he maybe wasn't looking at me or something, because he waited just a little bit too long to go. But, truthfully, that was not by design. I was not trying to do anything tricky. I thought he was."

Danica Patrick's hard crash on Lap 185 caused the sixth caution of the race. The right front tire on Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet SS exploded without warning as the car rolled through Turn 4. The car bounced off the outside wall into the path of David Ragan's Ford.

The resulting collision ripped the driver's-side door off Patrick's car and knocked the protective foam out of the door frame. Patrick walked away from the wreck but ended the day in 39th place.

That caution, however, proved a boon to her former car owner, Earnhardt, who was first off pit road for a restart on Lap 194. Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevy took a liking to the clean air and remained on point, pacing teammate Johnson as the Hendrick Motorsports pair opened a one-second lead over Matt Kenseth in third.

Forty laps into the green-flag, Earnhardt had widened his edge over Johnson to .928 seconds before the yellow flag flew on Lap 236 for David Gilliland's hard contact with the outside wall in Turn 1, the result of another blown right front tire.

That caution, the seventh of the race, put Kyle Busch back on the lead lap. Busch went a lap down after spinning into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 48 and persevered until he was awarded a free pass as the highest-scored lapped car when Gilliland wrecked.

Busch had started at the rear of the field because of an eleventh-hour engine change Sunday morning. The engine in his No. 18 Camry suffered a part failure during warm-up, the result of a reassembly error.

Results

Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts Status
1 15 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford 316 48 Running
2 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 316 43 Running
3 8 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 316 41 Running
4 11 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 316 41 Running
5 21 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 316 40 Running
6 13 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 316 38 Running
7 9 20 Matt Kenseth Husky Toyota 316 37 Running
8 6 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 316 36 Running
9 5 24 Jeff Gordon Pepsi MAX Chevrolet 316 35 Running
10 20 31 Jeff Burton Cheerios Chevrolet 316 34 Running
11 23 51 AJ Allmendinger Guy Roofing Chevrolet 316 33 Running
12 29 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 316 33 Running
13 7 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet 316 31 Running
14 43 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 316 30 Running
15 18 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 316 29 Running
16 12 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # Best Buy Ford 316 28 Running
17 17 16 Greg Biffle 3M/Novec Ford 316 28 Running
18 22 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford 316 26 Running
19 2 5 Kasey Kahne Quaker State Chevrolet 316 25 Running
20 16 27 Paul Menard Menards/Serta Chevrolet 316 24 Running
21 1 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 316 24 Running
22 19 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 316 22 Running
23 4 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 316 21 Running
24 33 47 Bobby Labonte Glad Toyota 315 20 Running
25 34 83 David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 315 20 Running
26 32 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 315 18 Running
27 25 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet 315 17 Running
28 27 36 JJ Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet 315 16 Running
29 30 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota 313 15 Running
30 37 30 David Stremme Swan Racing Toyota 313 14 Running
31 41 87 Joe Nemechek(i) MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota 311 0 Running
32 38 33 Landon Cassill Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet 309 12 Running
33 26 7 Dave Blaney Sany Chevrolet 306 11 Running
34 42 32 Ken Schrader Safe Skies Locks Ford 300 10 Accident
35 36 35 Josh Wise(i) Blockbuster.com Ford 295 0 Running
36 14 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Filters Toyota 284 8 Running
37 31 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford 237 7 Accident
38 24 34 David Ragan Ford 186 7 Accident
39 40 10 Danica Patrick # GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 184 5 Accident
40 10 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 137 4 Accident
41 28 95 Scott Speed Surrender the Sponsor Ford 88 3 Brakes
42 35 19 Mike Bliss(i) Plinker Tactical/Value Place Toyota 34 0 Brakes
43 39 44 Scott Riggs(i) No Label Watches Ford 19 1 Accident

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