Edwards wins in Texas, reduces points deficit
NASCAR driver Carl Edwards is a believer.
The Missouri native, who cut his racing teeth on dirt tracks throughout the Midwest, dominated the field Sunday to win the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
A huge, sun-baked crowd watched Edwards skillfully cut into Jimmie Johnson's lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with two races to go in the 2008 season.
Edwards coaxed his Roush Ford home on fumes ahead of the field after a series of caution flags put him behind when all the top-running cars took two tires while Edwards took four.
While those cars had to stop for gas, Edwards stayed on the track and held off on the gas pedal for the final dozen laps.
He trimmed some of Johnson's point lead, starting the day 183 points behind, and ending the day 106 points behind. Johnson managed to finish 15th, which was his worst performance in this championship run. He is trying to make it three in a row, which would make him the first driver since Cale Yarborough did it 30 years ago, back in the Junior Johnson days.
It was Edwards' eighth win of the year and the Office Depot driver charged around the 1-1/2-mile trioval as if his Ford was on rails.
Jeff Gordon finished second, also gambling on going the distance at the end without stopping for gas.
Trailing Edwards and Gordon were Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., Matt Kenseth and David Reutimann.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., wound up 20th.
The win was Ford's 10th of the season and has sparked interest in the NASCAR Manufacturer's Championship with Chevrolet and Toyota also holding 10 wins for the year. The circuit heads to Phoenix, Ariz., next week before winding up at Homestead-Miami Speedway the following weekend.
Pole-sitter Gordon shot under the green flag at the start and built a sizeable lead over Bowyer. Young Brad Keselowski flirted with the third turn retaining wall within a few laps of the start but managed to keep his machine out of harm's way. Bowyer, in the meantime, reeled in Gordon and passed him for the lead on the 16th lap. Earnhardt, who started fifth, passed Gordon a straightaway later.
Reutimann was impressive early as was Juan Pablo Montoya, both moving quickly into the top 10 spots.
It was Bowyer, Reutimann, Edwards, McMurray and Earnhardt out front, followed by Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Johnson, Biffle and Montoya.
Reutimann took the lead from Bowyer on lap 49. Once the leaders pitted, Bowyer regained the lead over Edwards and Reutimann.
On lap 57, Reed Sorenson had engine problems and brought out the caution for the first time.
When the race resumed on lap 65, it was Edwards out front and Bowyer second. Biffle was next, followed by McMurray, Reutimann, Montoya, Gordon, Truex, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Kenseth. Earnhardt dropped to 16th by making an extra stop, and Johnson dropped back to 21st.
On lap 96, leader Edwards put points leader Johnson a lap behind. Johnson apparently had some sort of problem but maintained radio silence. After the next round of pit stops, Johnson went back out in 30th position but was still not making much progress catching the leaders.
Edwards was clearly the class of the field and had moved into position by lap 143 to put a lap on two-time champion Tony Stewart, who got his lap back one lap later when the second caution of the day waved, making Stewart the "lucky dog" winner.
The race was restarted on lap 148 with Edwards still in front. Biffle trailed followed by McMurray, Brian Vickers, Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Reutimann, Montoya, Truex and David Ragan.
Edwards had a five-second lead at the halfway point. Johnson was running 23rd one lap down.
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