FORT WORTH, Tex.– After a long, wet and dreary day that turned to night, Carl Edwards wins the rain shortened AAA Texas 500 from the Texas Motor Speedway, his third victory of the season and first in the Chase, punching his ticket to Miami for a chance to win his first title.
Edwards ensured his team after a dismal 36th place finish last Sunday at Martinsville, they wouldn’t need to worry, as they were going to win Texas.
Edwards entered the weekend in a must win situation and kept the same attitude as he did, leaving Virginia. The three time TMS winner qualified ninth and raced well within the top 10 for the majority of the race.
In what became the final pit stop of race with 79 to go, Edwards’ team rattled off a 12 second stop to jump ahead of, Martin Truex Jr. From there it was all smooth sailing as he led the final 36 of the events 294 completed laps to claim the victory. This was also the first win in the 2016 Chase for Joe Gibbs Racing, who entered the event 0-7 up to this point.
For Edwards, he admitted that the pressure was on, but he still had sight of the big picture.
“I actually enjoyed it.” Edwards said. “The pressure was really mounting, and the guys got me off pit road first. That’s what won it for us. We have a shot at the championship and that’s all we’ve wanted this year. I can’t wait to go to Homestead, it’s going to be a blast.”
Edwards also praised his crew for an extraordinary stop to put him in a position to win the race.
“If we didn’t get in front of him (Truex Jr.) off pit road, we wouldn’t have gotten this.”
After a six hour rain delay, the race finally got underway with, pole sitter Austin Dillon bringing the field to the green flag. His run in the front was short lived as Chaser Joey Logano jumped to the front early and dominated the first half of the event, leading 166 total laps.
The race then changed hands later on as, Martin Truex Jr. took over the top spot, leading 66 laps, until a caution flew with 79 to go. Under that caution period, teams came down pit road for service and the No.19 team took their opportunity to pounce, beating Truex in the pits and sending their driver into the race lead.
Edwards ran away from the field under the next restart, but that was all quickly erased as Chaser Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon tangled off of turn four.
With 64 laps to go, this gave Logano one final chance to catch Edwards. As the race went back to green, the driver of the No.22 rocketed past Truex and into the second position. Unfortunately for Logano, try as he might, Edwards was long gone.
As the race closed in on the final laps, so too did the rain. With 45 laps to go, the skies opened up and the final caution flag was displayed. As NASCAR radioed they had lost the track, Edwards simultaneously felt he had the race win in his back pocket.
The race was declared official, 41 laps short of the 334 scheduled. For Edwards, it is in some way, vindication from last season, after rain in the penultimate race in Phoenix, hampered his chance to qualify for the Championship 4. This time around, it was Edwards who is beneficiary of mother nature’s untimely appearance.
Logano’s dominating performance came up one position short as he finishes in the second position, while third belonged to Truex Jr. Finishing in the fourth position is Chase Elliott, who battled flu-like symptoms all day and closely behind him in fifth is Kyle Busch, who battled an up and down evening.
Other notables include Chaser’s Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth in sixth and seventh, respectively. A solid outing for Ryan Blaney and the Wood Brothers, who finished in the 12th position, with Alex Bowman, coming back to finish 13th after a cut tire.
The third round has not been kind to Kurt Busch as he suffers another horrific race, after receiving a one lap penalty late in the event, he and his No.41 team finish in the 20th position, one lap down.
The Chase is entering its penultimate race and the points gap could not be closer. With Johnson and Edwards locked in, via their victories, out of the six remaining drivers, only two spots remain for the taking.
Joey Logano and Kyle Busch both find themselves ahead of the cutoff zone by only one point. Denny Hamlin is fifth in the standings, one point out, while his other JGR teammate, Matt Kenseth is two points shy. Meanwhile the SHR duo of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch find themselves in a must win scenario next weekend in Phoenix.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup continues with penultimate race in the season, the Can-Am 500(k), on Nov.13 at Phoenix Int’l Raceway (2 pm ET, NBC, MRN, Sirius XM).