Edwards Wins Federated Auto Parts 300
GLADEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ A year ago, Carl Edwards skipped the Busch race in Nashville because of a rain out, ruining his chances to win a series title.
Edwards made up for it Saturday night with a dominating win in the Federated Auto Parts 300. He unofficially led 70 of the last 85 laps, and beat Clint Bowyer to the finish by .920 seconds. It was Edwards’ second win in the last three Busch races.
Points leader Kevin Harvick was third, followed by Denny Hamlin. Paul Menard, the highest-finishing non-Nextel Cup regular, rounded out the top five.
Edwards took the lead for good when he passed Bowyer with 37 laps to go. He tried twice to pass on the outside before taking the inside line.
``Clint got ahead of us in the pits and it made me nervous but we were just a tick faster,″ Edwards said. ``I just worked on him and worked on him. It was really rewarding and really fun. He races clean and is such a great competitor.″
Edwards entered last year’s race here as the series leader but was forced to skip it in favor of his Nextel Cup ride when rain postponed the event for a day. Edwards went on to win at Pocono, where he will start 40th on Sunday.
``Last year was a little disheartening,″ Edwards said. ``We had such a great race car but everything happens for a reason. I won the first time I ever came here and I’ve run terrible ever since. So it’s nice to win in the Busch Series.″
Following Saturday’s win, Edwards praised Hank Parker Jr., who practiced the car while Edwards tended to his Cup duties at Pocono.
``Hank did a great job,″ Edwards said. ``That was the best car we had all year. We made some minor adjustments and it kept getting better and better. I told P.K. (crew chief Pierre Kuettel) to give Hank a kiss on the cheek and he said he already did.″
Bowyer had the lead following all three pit stops but was unable to hold on. He led for the final time after pitting under caution with 52 laps to go.
``The guys in the pits did a great job,″ Bowyer said. ``We just weren’t rotating and getting back to the center like I needed to.″
Only two full-time Nextel Cup drivers started in the top 10, but it didn’t take long for them to make their presence felt.
By lap 40, Bowyer, Edwards, Hamlin and Harvick were in the top four. Twenty laps later, Cup drivers had the top five positions, with the next three slots nailed down by drivers from Roush Racing.
Full-time Nextel Cup drivers have won all 15 Busch races this season.
``Without the Cup guys and Cup teams you probably wouldn’t have as big a crowd and probably not enough cars to make the race,″ Harvick said.
Among other Cup drivers, Greg Biffle finished seventh and J.J. Yeley was a lap down in 16th.
Kyle Busch fell out of contention after getting a one-lap penalty for speeding on pit road early in the race. He finished 31st.
Reed Sorenson, who won his first Busch Series race last year at Nashville Superspeedway, never got going. He started 36th, then got caught up in an five-car wreck two laps into the race.
Pole-sitter Todd Kleuver was 17th. Danny O’Quinn Jr. was the highest finishing rookie in 10th. Brad Coleman finished 37th in his first Busch Series start.