Johnson outduels Edwards in Kansas
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.
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.
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.
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