Ed­wards dom­i­nates wild NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bris­tol


NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— The record will show that pole­sit­ter Carl Ed­wards won Sun­day’s Food City 500 at Bris­tol Mo­tor Speed­way in dom­i­nat­ing fash­ion, lead­ing 276 of 500 laps and beat­ing run­ner-up Dale Earn­hardt Jr. to the fin­ish line by .766 sec­onds.

But while Ed­wards cruised to vic­tory with the fastest car in the eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries race of the sea­son, driv­ers be­hind him suf­fered a litany of trou­bles, pop­u­lat­ing the top 10 with the most un­likely ar­ray of com­peti­tors this sea­son. Con­sider that: Sunoco Rookie of the Year can­di­date Chase El­liott posted a ca­reer-best fourth-place re­sult a week af­ter record­ing a ca­reer-best fifth at Texas.

Trevor Bayne ran fifth, scor­ing his first top five since his sur­prise vic­tory in the 2011 sea­son-open­ing Day­tona 500.

Matt DiBenedetto came home sixth, scor­ing a bestever fin­ish (and only the sec­ond top 10) for BK Rac­ing. Clint Bowyer ral­lied from laps down to run eighth, his first top-10 and third lead-lap fin­ish of the sea­son.

All Joe Gibbs Rac­ing driv-


ers other than Ed­wards had se­ri­ous is­sues on Sun­day. Kyle Busch, try­ing for his third straight Sprint Cup win, blew two right front tires, hit the wall twice and re­tired from the race in 38th place. Matt Kenseth and Denny Ham­lin suf­fered sim­i­lar is­sues with right fronts and fin­ished 36th and 20th, re­spec­tively.

Kevin Har­vick, who had ar­guably the fastest car in the clos­ing stages of the race, never got a chance to show it, be­cause he kept draw­ing the in­side lane for ev­ery restart. The speed at Bris­tol is in the out­side lane, and Har­vick ul­ti­mately ran seventh with a No. 4 Chevrolet that was much bet­ter than its fin­ish­ing po­si­tion.

Sim­ply put, it was an­other wild, ac­tion-filled af­ter­noon at Thun­der Val­ley, but for Ed­wards, it was sim­ply an ex­ten­sion of what he and the No. 19 Toy­ota team have been ac­com­plish­ing this sea­son.

Ed­wards posted his seventh top 10 in eight races, climbed to sec­ond in the se­ries stand­ings (one point be­hind Har­vick) and, first and fore­most, all but as­sured him­self of a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“It was a re­ally great race for us,” said Ed­wards, who won for the first time this sea­son, the fourth time at Bris­tol and the 26th time in his ca­reer. “It started on Fri­day well, started this win­ter build­ing th­ese cars. But the car was re­ally fast in qual­i­fy­ing, got the first pit stall, and that meant a lot to the guys. They were just flaw­less on pit road. The car was re­ally fast, and (crew chief) Dave (Rogers) did a good job of man­ag­ing every­thing.

“We didn’t have any trou­ble, and re­ally it’s just a tes­ta­ment to every­body at the shop and our whole team. Re­ally awe­some to have a win so now we can re­ally have some fun and fo­cus on this cham­pi­onship.”

If Ed­wards’ race was prob­lem-free, hardly any­thing else was or­di­nary. Even Earn­hardt’s sec­ond-place fin­ish was an anom­aly.

The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet in­ad­ver­tently ac­ti­vated the “kill” switch on his car at the start of the race by ap­ply­ing too much brake pres­sure. Earn­hardt rolled onto pit road and lost two laps while his team re­booted the elec­tronic con­trol unit (ECU) that gov­erns the elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion.

Two wave-arounds un­der cau­tion in the first half of the race put the 88 back on the lead lap, and Earn­hardt par­layed his good for­tune into a bet­ter-than-ex­pected run. Un­like Har­vick, Earn­hardt ben­e­fited from restarts in the out­side lane, and on the fi­nal restart with five laps left, he rock­eted from fourth to sec­ond and held off third-place fin­isher Kurt Busch.

“Just warm­ing the brakes up, I en­gaged that sys­tem to kill the throt­tle,” Earn­hardt said of the early trou­ble. “I was warm­ing the brakes up like I al­ways do, and ap­par­ently I ap­plied too much pres­sure and it killed the mo­tor.

“We’ll work on that and maybe raise that thresh­old a lit­tle bit, be­cause I wasn’t re­ally us­ing the brake that much.”

Earn­hardt ac­knowl­edged he stole a run­ner-up fin­ish with a car that wasn’t that good.

“We had about a 10th-place car,” Earn­hardt said. “We weren’t re­ally that good all day. We tried a setup that we’ve never re­ally ran here be­fore, just try­ing to learn a lit­tle some­thing go­ing for­ward, and we’ll go home and sci­ence it out a lit­tle bit.

“We got real lucky the last three restarts to be on the out­side line. We restarted 10th, sixth and fourth, and when you restart fourth, you’re typ­i­cally go­ing to come out in sec­ond place af­ter that. I was hop­ing we didn’t have any more cau­tions af­ter that. So it was good. We’ll take it.”


Carl Ed­wards cel­e­brates win­ning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries Food City 500 at Bris­tol Mo­tor Speed­way on Sun­day in Bris­tol, Tenn.

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