AVONDALE, Ariz. — Report by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Kyle Magda — Daniel Shirey/Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
0.010 seconds, or maybe four inches, is all it took to keep Carl Edwards out of victory lane in Sunday’s Good Sam 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Lining up behind leader Kevin Harvick on the race’s final restart, Edwards had two fresh right-side tires compared to Harvick’s none. He followed the Stewart Haas Racing driver’s tire tracks for the first lap of a NASCAR Overtime finish that pushed the race a lap beyond its scheduled distance before he charged forward in hopes of eking out a victory.
Edwards moved Harvick up the race track in turn four and forced his way to the inside, but it wasn’t enough. The two banged doors to the finish line as the 2014 Cup champion edged out the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in the closest finish in track history.
“Those guys were doing a great job all day — they hung on with us with those tires, but we were faster,” Edwards said. “I thought I’d just move him out of the way and get by. I just didn’t move him far enough. I ran into him about as hard as I thought I could without wrecking him, and it ended up being a drag race.”
“It was kind of fun coming to the line because I thought, ‘Man, I got him,’ and then he doored me real hard and then he got a little run and then I tried to door him and slow him down, but it just didn’t work. I needed to be in front of his front tire. What a fun race, though.”
This is the second time in 2016 that a race was determined by a photo finish, with the season-opening Daytona 500 being the other. Denny Hamlin beat Martin Truex Jr. to the line by .011 seconds and practically guaranteed himself a spot in the 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup grid with the Daytona win.
That foot or so means that JGR still has only one team car locked so far into the Chase, however Edwards has little reason to be concerned. He won twice in 2015 with his No. 19 team and ultimately made it to the Round of 8 in the Chase before he fell from championship contention.
All of that positive outlook from last season didn’t mean that Edwards didn’t have regrets about the final lap, however.
“I wish I could’ve won that thing,” Edwards said. [Crew chief] Dave Rogers did a great job. We got to thank STANLEY, they’re on board here, hopefully everybody that damaged their stuff could use some STANLEY Tools and fix it today. If we would’ve had one more lap, I could have passed him clean, but it just wasn’t going to work without bumping him. So I decided to hit him as hard as I did. I really didn’t want to wreck him, but I thought I moved him enough to get by, but that’s just racing.”
“I should have wrecked him!” he added with a laugh. “I wanted to win that thing, but you win some, you lose some. Like I said, it was a good race.”
Edwards will have another shot at victory in the next race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Auto Club 400, on March 20 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The Columbia, Missouri native won at the two-mile oval in September of 2005, and statistically, it is his second-best track on the circuit with a career average finish of 8.78.
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is a Northeast Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 22-year-old is a graduate of Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
Email Kyle at: [email protected]
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