Ed­wards wins duel in Auto Club 500

Ed­wards earns eighth Cup win by edg­ing past reign­ing champ

The Covington News - - Sports - By Mike Har­ris

FON­TANA, Calif. — The latest race-win­ning per­for­mance by Carl Ed­wards was no sur­prise to his team’s co-owner.

“Carl is ap­proach­ing the top of his game and I hope we’ll be able to keep him there for a long time,” Jack Roush said Mon­day af­ter Ed­wards charged from third place late in the race to grab a vic­tory in the rain­de­layed Auto Club 500.

For Ed­wards, his eighth Cup vic­tory was a sign that he is back to the form that saw him win four races and fin­ish third in the points in 2005, his first full sea­son in Cup. It was also a sig­nal that at least one Sprint Cup team is ready to take on Hendrick Mo­tor­sports.

Ed­wards fin­ished ahead of Hendrick team­mates Jim­mie John­son and Jeff Gor­don. In a race that re­sumed with the 88th of 250 laps, Ed­wards as­sumed the lead for good with 13 laps left.

“I hope it’s an in­di­ca­tion we’ve caught up with them,” Ed­wards said af­ter the eighth vic­tory of his ca­reer. “They still were sec­ond and third and they were the guys to beat to­day. I hope this is a sign we’re up to their stan­dards, to their level.”

John­son took the green flag for the fi­nal restart in the lead with 26 laps left, but Ed­wards surged from third.

He then showed fine form on his tra­di­tional vic­tory back­flip af­ter cap­tur­ing the check­ered flag in a race that ended un­der cau­tion when Dale Jar­rett spun on the fi­nal lap.

Ed­wards had it all but wrapped up at that point, driv­ing his Roush Fen­way No. 99 Ford to a lead of more than 4 sec­onds over John­son. It was his first vic­tory at Fon­tana but his sev­enth top-10 fin­ish in eight starts at the track for­merly known as Cal­i­for­nia Speed­way.

Gor­don, who dom­i­nated Sun­day’s rain-in­ter­rupted rac­ing, fin­ished third. He was fol­lowed by Kyle Busch and Roush’s Matt Kenseth, who had won the two pre­vi­ous Fe­bru­ary races at this track. An­other Roush driver, Greg Bif­fle, won this event in 2005.

A year ago, John­son and Gor­don ended 1-2 in the sea­son points. John­son won his sec­ond straight Cup ti­tle and the team rolled up 18 vic­to­ries in 36 races. The Hendrick con­tin­gent also won nine of the 16 races in which NASCAR’s new Car of To­mor­row was raced.

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