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Johnson outduels Edwards in Kansas

Race 3 of Sprint Cup Chase
Sunday, September 28, 2008

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Johnson battles Edwards to the flag
It was probably one of the most spectacular finishes in NASCAR history.

Carl Edwards made a suicide run into the third turn underneath race leader Jimmie Johnson. He was determined to win.

Unfortunately, Edwards ran out of track before running into the wall, struggled to maintain control and watched Johnson go back by him for the victory at Kansas Speedway.

A sellout crowd stood, cheering the last-lap, do-or-die antics of the hard-driving Edwards, even though his banzai run tactics didn't work.

Greg Biffle made a last-lap pass of Jeff Gordon for third position. Matt Kenseth was fifth after a day of struggles, and Kevin Harvick finished sixth. Jeff Burton was seventh, David Ragan eighth, AJ Allmendinger ninth and Elliott Sadler 10th.

It was another sad day for Kyle Busch, who encountered mechanical problems again and wound up 28th. Busch was never a factor.

Jimmie Johnson has come alive of late
It was Johnson who led most of the way. Edwards, however, was a contender throughout the race, having to fight his way back from 25th spot after a pit road accident sent him back in the field for a restart.

Johnson's win establishes him as the man to beat in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship since he has two Sprint Cups in his possession already, but Edwards and Biffle plan to give him all the competition he could ask for in the remaining seven races.

The three up-on-the-wheel drivers -- Johnson, Edwards and Biffle -- will wear out the gas pedal at Talladega next weekend if Sunday's race was an indication of what to expect.

Talladega is a wide-open, 2.6-mile, high-banked speed palace where drivers draft together in a 40-car swarm.

Sunday in Kansas, popular driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., once again finished poorly in 13th position. 

Under a steaming sun on a tacky track, two-time defending champion Johnson took the lead in his Lowe's Chevy and raced away from the field at the start.

Kenseth's yellow DeWalt Ford took over near the 20-lap mark with Martin Truex Jr. just behind. The rest of the field fanned out around the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway.

Truex passed Johnson at 30 laps for second spot. For the third race in a row, regular-season points leader Busch encountered some type of engine problem, dropping out of contention before 50 laps had been completed.

Busch established his Joe Gibbs Racing team as the favorite to win the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with eight wins during the regular season. He started the Chase atop the standings but fell to 12th out of 12 after the Dover race last weekend. At the 60-lap point in Sunday's race, no relief seemed to be in sight as both Kyle and brother Kurt struggled near the back of the pack.

Once the first round of green-flag, pit stops were complete, Kenseth was back out front with Truex and Johnson behind. Rounding out the top 10 were Casey Mears, Gordon, Sadler, Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Biffle and Ragan.

Vickers lost several positions due to a run-in with Edwards during the pit stops. Edwards clipped the rear of Vickers' Toyota as he entered his pit while Vickers was exiting his. Both cars suffered minor damage. The incident shuffled Edwards back to 25th.   

Ryan Newman slid into the wall on the 74th lap bringing out the first caution flag of the day.

During this pit stop, several cars banged together when Dave Blaney pulled in front of others leaving his pit. Allmendinger's crew let a tire roll across pit road, costing him a bunch of track positions.

On the restart at lap 79, it was Mears, Truex, Gordon, Johnson, Biffle, Earnhardt, Sadler, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Sadler and Mark Martin.

Kyle Petty brought out a caution on lap 94, spinning off the track in Turn 3.  After a restart with Mears in the lead, Johnson charged back to the front on lap 110.

Much-heralded rookie Joey Logano brought out a caution at lap 117 when he brushed the wall.

Once the green waved again, Truex was in front, Johnson, Bowyer, Biffle, Gordon, Jeff Burton, Earnhardt, Harvick, Sadler and Mears. Shortly after the restart, Kenseth lost control and spun but did not make contact with anything. Again on the restart, a spin brought the caution back out. Tony Stewart spun off the track after a brief on-track exchange with Vickers.

At the halfway point (134 laps), Johnson led with Truex and Biffle in tow. Gordon was fourth, Edwards fifth and Bowyer sixth. Earnhardt, Burton, Harvick and Mears were seventh through 10th.

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 195/10 267 Running
2 34 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 175/5 267 Running
3 18 16 Greg Biffle Ford Sherwin Williams / 3M 165/0 267 Running
4 13 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 160/0 267 Running
5 3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 160/5 267 Running
6 36 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 150/0 267 Running
7 37 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 146/0 267 Running
8 12 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 142/0 267 Running
9 14 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 138/0 267 Running
10 4 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Garmin 134/0 267 Running
11 30 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 135/5 267 Running
12 24 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 127/0 267 Running
13 28 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 124/0 267 Running
14 10 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 126/5 267 Running
15 9 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 118/0 267 Running
16 15 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 115/0 267 Running
17 16 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 112/0 267 Running
18 2 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 109/0 266 Running
19 40 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 111/5 266 Running
20 42 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 103/0 266 Running
21 8 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 100/0 266 Running
22 32 38 David Gilliland Ford Ford. Drive one. 97/0 266 Running
23 25 70 Tony Raines Chevrolet Haas Automation 94/0 266 Running
24 21 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 91/0 266 Running
25 7 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 88/0 266 Running
26 17 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 85/0 266 Running
27 6 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Super Clean / Menards 82/0 266 Running
28 27 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 84/5 266 Running
29 19 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge LifeLock 81/5 266 Running
30 31 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 73/0 265 Running
31 26 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 70/0 265 Running
32 35 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 67/0 265 Running
33 23 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Penske Truck Rental 64/0 265 Running
34 33 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Hitachi Power Tools 61/0 264 Running
35 29 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 63/5 264 Running
36 20 147 Marcos Ambrose Ford Little Debbie 55/0 264 Running
37 39 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Menards 52/0 264 Running
38 43 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row/ DenverMattress.com 49/0 263 Running
39 28 96 Joey Logano Toyota DLP HDTV 46/0 263 Running
40 41 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 43/0 260 Running
41 22 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 40/0 257 Running
42 21 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 37/0 235 Running
43 5 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 39/5 229 Transmission

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