Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Carl Edwards bumps teammate Kyle Busch out of way for Richmond victory

RICHMOND, Va. — Carl Edwards had been grinding for 30 laps, doing everything he could to catch Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch on Sunday at Richmond International Raceway.

When Edwards finally caught him on the last lap, and in the final turn, he set aside intra-team concerns and focused on the reason they are racing: to win.

Edwards bumped his sometimes volatile teammate off his racing line in the last turn of the Toyota Owners 400 and passed him for his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup victory, and the fourth in a row for the Gibbs team.

NASCAR said it was the first last-lap pass for a victory in the history of the premier series at the 0.75-mile track, a span of 120 races dating to 1953.

"I wish it was anybody but my teammate that we had to race like that with, but big picture to me is we've both got some wins, we're in the Chase (for the Championship), and it's fun to have to race your teammate for the win," Edwards said. "If the roles were reversed, I would have expected him to bump me the same way."

Gibbs said there's no game plan for how to handle the next team meeting.

"What you do is you just start out and work your way through it, and that's what we'll do," he said.

Edwards, nearly 1.5 seconds behind with 36 laps to go, gradually ran Busch down. "Man, I didn't think we had anything. Kyle was just so good for that run," Edwards said.

Busch seemed less than amused after being denied his third victory in the past four races.

"We were fast, maybe not as good as Carl was on the long runs, but we did everything right, everything we were supposed to do," Busch said.

Busch didn't directly answer questions about how he felt about Edwards' tactics.

"It's racing, I guess," he said.

Jimmie Johnson finished third, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne and pole-sitter Kevin Harvick. Gibbs placed all four of its drivers in the top seven, with Denny Hamlin sixth and Matt Kenseth seventh.

The race was the first scheduled during daytime at Richmond since 1997, and Johnson was a huge fan of the racing that the warm, sunny day produced.

"We had multiple lanes that laid the rubber in the racetrack, and we didn't have all those marbles (loose bits of rubber) build up on the outside, where it really limited your opportunities up high," he said. "It was fun."

Tony Stewart finished 19th in his first race this season after recovering from a broken back sustained in a non-racing accident. Before the race, Stewart didn't back down from the statements that got him fined $35,000 last week by NASCAR.

"I'm always going to speak my mind," Stewart said.

NASCAR fined Stewart last week after he was critical of a recent policy that doesn't require all five lug nuts to be replaced during pit stops. Stewart said drivers' safety was being compromised.

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