FORT WORTH, Texas — Carl Edwards got the victory he desperately needed to earn a championship-contending spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale, winning the Texas 500 Sunday night in a race shortened by 41 laps because of rain after the start had been delayed nearly six hours.
With his fourth career victory at Texas, Edwards joined Jimmie Johnson as drivers locked into championship-contending spots in the series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20.
That leaves two spots up for grabs next Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Edwards entered the second-to-last race before Homestead eighth in points among the drivers still eligible for the championship.
"This is huge. I don't think it's sunk in yet. That's all we said was needed, just a shot," Edwards said. "Now we're going to go to Homestead, we're going to do what we need to do. This was a great test. We came here and did what we needed to do, we performed, and I really believe we can do that at Homestead."
Edwards' three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates are among the six other drivers still in contention, and clearly not all of them can advance.
Light rain had already been falling, and plenty more was on the radar around the track, when the caution came out with 45 laps remaining of the originally scheduled 334-lap race.
All the cars were brought to pit road four laps later, and it was only a few more minutes before NASCAR declared the race over and official after 293 laps. It could have taken two hours or more to dry the track.
The rain-shortened victory was certainly appropriate for Edwards after how his championship Chase ended last year.
Last year's race at Phoenix was delayed nearly seven hours as a series of storms passed through the area, then once it started under the lights it was called after 218 laps. Edwards finished fifth, leaving him five points out of the final spot for the Chase finale.
It was Edwards' fourth win at Texas, but his first there in eight years. He swept the two Cup races there in 2008, the season he had nine wins overall and a career-best finish of second in points.
Edwards took the lead on Lap 258 late Sunday after beating Martin Truex off pit road.
Joey Logano, another Chase contender, finished second while leading a race-high 178 laps. Truex finished third and Chase Elliott fourth.
Logano is third in season points, with Kyle Busch fourth. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are in the fifth through eighth spots. If one of those six drivers doesn't win at Phoenix, the final two championship spots would be determined by points.
TRAILING AFTER GREEN: Polesitter Austin Dillon led only the race's first six laps but didn't lead a green-flag lap. He was passed by Logano for the lead on Lap 7, the first lap after the green flag.
BIG BOBBLEHEAD: The first 30,000 fans were given Tony Stewart bobbleheads commemorating the retiring driver's final race at Texas. During driver introductions, track president Eddie Gossage presented Stewart with his own bobblehead — a life-sized replica with an oversized head.
HELD OUT: Matt DiBenedetto wasn't allowed to drive because of NASCAR's concussion protocol.