Ed­wards bumps team­mate Kyle Busch to win at Rich­mond

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By REID SPENCER

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— The honeymoon at Joe Gibbs Rac­ing may be over.

Yes, on Sun­day at Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional Race­way, Carl Ed­wards won his sec­ond straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries race in the Toy­ota Own­ers 400 and the fourth in a row for JGR, but he did so with a last-lap bump-and-run on team­mate Kyle Busch, who was seek­ing his third vic­tory in four events.

“We did every­thing right – be smart,” Busch was told on his ra­dio, af­ter Ed­wards moved the No. 18 Toy­ota up the track in Turns 3 and 4 and beat Busch to the fin­ish line by .675 sec­onds.

Busch took the ad­vice. No doubt seething in­side at the loss of a race he seemed poised to win, he main­tained ra­dio si­lence.

With a su­perb pit stop un­der the eighth and fi­nal cau­tion of the race, Busch grabbed the lead for a restart on Lap 365 of 400. He stayed out front un­til Ed­wards made up enor­mous ground by bury­ing his No. 19 Camry into Turn 1 on the fi­nal lap.

Ed­wards ap­plied the coup de grace in the next cor­ner,

RICH­MOND, VA.

nudg­ing Busch out of the way to com­plete the first last-lap pass for the win in the his­tory of the .75-mile track.

Ed­wards in­di­cated he was will­ing to take more lib­er­ties with his team­mate be­cause they had both scored vic­to­ries this sea­son and are locks to qual­ify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“Kyle’s an amaz­ing team­mate, and it’s like he got re­ally slow there at the end,” Ed­wards said in Vic­tory Lane. “Some­thing hap­pened that last lap. It was like his rear tires went off or some­thing. He went down into (Turn) 1 and I dove it in and I got to him and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got some­thing.’

“And he went to get down to the bot­tom and park it in (Turns) 3 and 4, and I had al­ready de­cided to go down there, so I thought, ‘Man, I’m go­ing to give him a lit­tle nudge.’ And we both have got wins, and we’re rac­ing for fun get­ting th­ese tro­phies and (it was) just an awe­some day.”

“Awe­some” is prob­a­bly not the word the typ­i­cally out­spo­ken Busch would have cho­sen, but he was silent on his ra­dio af­ter tak­ing the check­ered flag. In his post-race in­ter­view in the me­dia cen­ter, Busch was as non-com­mit­tal as re­tired Seat­tle Sea­hawk Mar­shawn Lynch in the locker room.

Asked whether he ex­pected Ed­wards to use the bumpand-run for the win, Busch re­peated a rote an­swer he had given to the pre­vi­ous ques­tion.

“Our Ban­field Camry was real awe­some to­day,” Busch said. “We had a great race car. My guys made some awe­some ad­just­ments to it. It was re­ally good for us to have an op­por­tu­nity to run and race for the win like that.”

And was Ed­wards’ nudge more ex­cus­able be­cause both driv­ers al­ready had wins?

“My guys give me great race cars each and ev­ery week,” Busch dead­panned. “We con­tinue to have fast Cam­rys. We’ll be con­tin­u­ing to run up front and race for wins.”

Ed­wards’ pur­suit of Busch over the last 36 laps was riv­et­ing, but so was the ac­tion through­out the field. The race fea­tured 23 lead changes (most since 2007) among eight driv­ers, as cars came to life and faded as the track changed through­out the af­ter­noon.

Jim­mie John­son’s No. 48 Chevrolet was strong early and late and came home third, fol­lowed by Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports team­mate Kasey Kahne, who scored his first top five since the Chase race at Kansas last Oc­to­ber.

Kevin Har­vick fin­ished fifth ahead of Denny Ham­lin and Matt Kenseth, as JGR put all four of its cars in the top seven.

Tony Ste­wart started 18th and fin­ished 19th, de­spite suf­fer­ing a cut tire, in his first race of the sea­son af­ter a back in­jury and surgery. “Smoke” was up on the wheel from the out­set, and from Lap 130 to Lap 145, he waged an in­tense bat­tle with Ed­wards in an at­tempt to stay on the lead lap.

“I was real happy to have him back un­til about five laps into that bat­tle,” Ed­wards joked.

If Ste­wart left Rich­mond with a lit­tle more bounce in his step, Ed­wards left with fences to mend.

“We’ll talk about it,” he said of the last-lap en­counter with Busch.

Team owner Joe Gibbs had to deal with di­vided loy­al­ties – cel­e­brat­ing with one driver and com­mis­er­at­ing with the other.

“I think when some­thing like this hap­pens, I don’t think there’s a game plan for it,” Gibbs said. “You have no real or­ga­nized way of han­dling it. What you do is you start out and work your way through it. That’s what we’ll do.

“So, you know, it’s a tough thing be­cause it’s cer­tainly painful for one side. You’re on such a high with the other side. It’s a tough thing. What we’ll do is go to work and work our way through it.”

GETTY IMAGES FOR NASCAR

Carl Ed­wards, driver of the #19 XFIN­ITY Toy­ota, poses with the win­ner’s de­cal af­ter win­ning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries TOY­OTA OWN­ERS 400 at Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional Race­way on Sun­day in Rich­mond, Va.

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