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Flip of switch helps Carl Edwards' NASCAR victory

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Carl Edwards claimed a rain-soaked Food City 500 victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, where weather wreaked havoc on yet another Sprint Cup race.

The rain caused two delays lasting more than five hours; one that delayed the start Sunday by almost two hours, and another that stopped the race for 3 hours, 18 minutes. But when the drivers got on the track, they raced fast and furious.

Much like the season-opening Daytona 500, which was stopped by rain for almost six hours, the threat of more bad weather bringing a sudden halt to the race forced the drivers to go hard every lap.

So when a caution with 77 laps remaining sent most of the field to pit road, Edwards' crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, made the call to stay on the track. The move gave Edwards the lead on the restart with 70 laps remaining.

He had no trouble pulling out to an easy lead and had victory in sight when the yellow caution lights came on with two laps remaining. No one was sure what the caution was for and Fennig even wondered if water damage might have inadvertently caused the lights to turn on. Then the sky suddenly opened and NASCAR declared the race over.

NASCAR said after the race that someone in the flag-stand accidentally leaned on a switch to trigger the lights. NASCAR was forced to issue a full caution "because operation of the lights was comprised."

"No harm, no foul, let's act like it just didn't happen," Edwards told NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton.

Edwards led Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse across the finish line. Aric Almirola of Richard Petty Motorsports was third as Ford drivers swept the top three spots.

It was Edwards' 22nd career victory, third at Bristol, but his first of the season and the one that should clinch him a spot in the Chase for the Championship under NASCAR's new format.

"We're in the Chase and we're going to go win this championship," said Edwards, who celebrated with his traditional backflip off his car onto the slick track. "I wasn't sure about the backflip."

Stenhouse was disappointed he didn't get a shot to race his teammate for the win.

"I was thinking that I would use the bumper if the opportunity was there," he said. "If you get the win, you're in the Chase and you can let the rest take care of itself later. That's what I was really thinking if we went back green. I was thinking about doing whatever I could to win."

And Almirola also was having trouble accepting the final outcome.

"It's frustrating because I had one shot to race Carl for the lead, and these races are so hard to win," he said. "It was a great day for us, I'm not disappointed at all with third, but when you see it and you can taste it and it's that close, you wonder what could have went different."

Sprint Cup points

After four of 26 races. Sixteen drivers make the season-ending Chase for the Championship:

Driver Points Back

Brad Keselowski 163—

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 153 10

Carl Edwards 152 11

Jeff Gordon 152 11

Jimmie Johnson 143 20

Joey Logano 141 22

Denny Hamlin 140 23

Matt Kenseth 138 25

Ryan Newman 125 38

Ricky Stenhouse 122 41

Kasey Kahne 120 43

Greg Biffle 118 45

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official results today



Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 84.051 mph

Time of race: 3 hours, 11 minutes,

23 seconds

Margin of victory: Under caution

Caution flags: 12 for 95 laps

Lead changes: 20 among 12 drivers

Lap leaders: D.Hamlin 1; B.Keselowski 2-41; J.Logano 42-53; J.Johnson 54-97; M.Kenseth 98-119; Ku.Busch 120; Kenseth 121-152; Ku.Busch 153-178; J.McMurray 179-188; Ku.Busch 189; C.Bowyer 190-194; Ky.Busch 195-267; K.Kahne 268-277; Hamlin 278; Kahne 279-284; Kenseth 285-333; Hamlin 334; Kenseth 335-396; Hamlin 397; K.Harvick 398-425; C.Edwards 426-503

Up next

Auto Club 400, 3 p.m. Sunday, Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif. TV: Ch. 13

Flip of switch helps Carl Edwards' NASCAR victory 03/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, March 16, 2014 11:04pm]
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