Sunday, September 8, 2013

Edwards Wins While the Chase Field is Set

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Carl Edwards won the Federated Auto Parts 400 from Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night after holding off the rest of the field on a late-race restart.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Edwards took the lead with just 50 laps to go, and he held off a hard charge from Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman to win his second race of the season.  The win allowed him to get ahead of Jimmie Johnson in the points, and he finished the regular season as the points leader.  

Jeff Gordon started on the pole, and he led for the first 50 laps.  Brad Keselowski took the lead away from Gordon on lap 50, and he knew that he had to win.  The only way Keselowski was going to make the Chase was if he won this race.

On lap 66, Kurt Busch, another Chase contender, took the lead for the first time.  On lap 90, Joey Logano pitted, and that started a round of green-flag pit stops.  Busch pitted from the lead on lap 96.  After pit stops had cycled around, Keselowski was the leader again.

On lap 105, Matt Kenseth took the lead, but Busch took the lead again on lap 110.  Busch led until lap 136, when the first caution came out for debris.

Under the caution, the leaders came down pit road, and Jamie McMurray won the race off pit road.
McMurray led when the race went back green on lap 142, but Keselowski was able to get around McMurray for the lead after they raced side-by-side for a few laps.

On lap 207, the second caution of the night came out when David Stremme spun by himself.  Kurt Busch regained the lead on pit road when the leaders pitted for tires and fuel.

Busch led on the restart, but Keselowski worked his way around Busch for the lead just three laps later.  Keselowski would lead until the caution came out on lap 267 for debris.  Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road after the leaders pitted, and he led the field back to the green flag on lap 274.

Bowyer led until he had to make a green flag pit stop on lap 342.  That allowed Busch to take the lead, but the caution came out in the middle of green-flag pit stops.

The leaders that hadn't pitted under green came down pit road during the caution, and Edwards beat everyone off pit road.

Edwards took the green flag on lap 351, and he led until Newman took the lead with just nine laps to go.  With seven laps to go, Bowyer spun to bring out the final caution of the night.  The caution set up a wild shootout to set the field for the Chase, and the leaders came down pit road for one final pit stop.

Paul Menard won the race off pit road, but his car did not get going when the race restarted and that allowed Edwards to take the lead.  Newman tried as hard as he could to get up to the lead, but Edwards was able to hold Newman  and Busch off for the win.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Carl Edwards
2. Kurt Busch
3. Ryan Newman
4. Jamie McMurray
5. Paul Menard
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Jeff Gordon
9. Mark Martin
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Greg Biffle
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
14. Kasey Kahne
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Juan Pablo Montoya
17. Brad Keselowski
18. Jeff Burton
19. Kyle Busch
20. Aric Almirola
21. Denny Hamlin
22. Joey Logano
23. David Gilliland
24. Brian Vickers
25. Clint Bowyer
26. Casey Mears
27. Marcos Ambrose
28. Travis Kvapil
29. David Ragan
30. Danica Patrick
31. Dave Blaney
32. David Reutimann
33. Tony Raines
34. Landon Cassill
35. Ryan Truex
36. J.J. Yeley
37. Ken Schrader
38. David Stremme
39. Joe Nemechek
40. Jimmie Johnson
41. Josh Wise
42. Reed Sorenson
43. Michael McDowell

 The win gave Edwards three more bonus points towards the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  After the race, the Chase field was set, with Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr. getting the two Wild Card spots.

Here are the updated standings:

1. Matt Kenseth          2015 points
2. Jimmie Johnson       2012
3. Kyle Busch             2012
4. Kevin Harvick         2006
5. Carl Edwards          2006
6. Joey Logano            2003
7. Greg Biffle              2003
8. Clint Bowyer          2000
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.   2000
10. Kurt Busch            2000
11. Kasey Kahne         2000
12. Martin Truex Jr.    2000

Next week, the series heads to Chicagoland Speedway for the first race in the Chase.  The Geico 400 will be Sunday at 2 p.m., only on ESPN.

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