The advertising buzz about Texas Motor Speedway is that "Everybody wants the hat!" awarded to race winners. Carl Edwards must have decided that he needed another hat (and another set of winner's pistols) so he joined Jeff Burton today as the ...
The advertising buzz about Texas Motor Speedway is that "Everybody wants the hat!" awarded to race winners.
Carl Edwards must have decided that he needed another hat (and another set of winner's pistols) so he joined Jeff Burton today as the only repeat winner here in Fort Worth. This is Edwards' third win and fourth top-10 finish for the 2008 season; as a result, he jumped four positions to 10th place in NASCAR Sprint Cup series points.
"It was extremely competitive out there. There were a lot of cars that were virtually the same speed, so it was really difficult to get the track position," said Edwards. "There were times in the race - I was watching Kyle Busch, and I thought, 'Man, he's going to dominate this thing,' and there was another point when Matt Kenseth was leading and I thought, 'Man, he's got it in the bag.'"
After leading the race for 123 laps (including holding the lead from Lap 233 onward) and spending the entire race in the top 15, Edwards drove his No. 99 Aflac Ford into the front spot and then Victory Lane after the sixth and final caution at a green-white-checkered restart.
Edwards dominated all weekend. His Ford was the fastest car at Happy Hour final practice, he was the fastest at the second practice, second-fastest at Practice 1 and in Cup qualifying he was second behind Coors Light Pole Winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
"At the end, that restart, might not look exciting to people watching," said Edwards, "but it was real exciting for me in the race car to try not to spin those tires and [to] hold off Jimmie [Johnson.] To win here, it means a lot."
Jimmie Johnson finished second in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet. "I went into [Turns] 1 and 2 with him [Edwards] and he got away from me a little bit," said Johnson. "We just kind of ran from there on out. Once you get up to speed, the cars are so dependent on the aerodynamics that the guy in front has a major, major advantage; more than we've ever had." The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota driven by Kyle Busch finished third.
"We didn't wreck, so that's OK," said Busch. "We battled our car all day long, and couldn't really ever get it right. Was it fun to drive? No. Was it hard to drive? Yes. Did it survive the day? Yes..We got a win [in the Nationwide race] and a third-place finish - my best finish here in a Cup car - so I'd evaluate the weekend as a positive."
Ryan Newman's No. 12 alltel/Samsung Dodge was fourth, and Denny Hamlin's No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota was fifth.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led the field to the green at the start, but by Lap 10 he was reporting that his car had "no grip." At Lap 14, Junior was passed by Kyle Busch, then he and his team were frustrated for the rest of the race, ultimately finishing 12th.
Very quickly, Jeff Gordon fell to the back of the pack from his 18th starting position, and he reported "We're in trouble" in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet. Gordon finally pulled into the garage for good at Lap 110, finishing 43rd for only the second time in 516 Sprint Cup races. The other last place finish for Gordon? Yep, Texas in spring 1999.
The first caution at Lap 30 was a single car spin by Michael Waltrip, and Earnhardt led the race off of pit road partly because of his great location as pole winner. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch were second and third after minor adjustments. Earnhardt was passed by Johnson at Lap 47.
It was no doubt perplexing to Hendrick team members that as the defending Sprint Cup champion No. 48 ran up front, he lapped his teammate Gordon.
At Lap 84, Earnhardt took the lead briefly for the last time in the race when Johnson pitted, but then Junior lost it on pit road because while getting to his pit, his National Guard car was slow and somewhat boxed in by Mark Martin's No. 8 US Army Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson led off the road, with Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch close behind.
The second caution was Jeff Gordon finally giving up the No. 24 ghost after a spinout and wall tap, then Matt Kenseth took a fast stop, won the race off of pit road and led at the green at Lap 113.
Kenseth again led off of pit road and to the green flag at Lap 138, following a brief third caution, for track debris.
At Lap 175, JJ Yeley got loose in Turn 2, bounced off of the SAFER wall on the backstretch and then dropped down for a hard hit on the (non-SAFER) wall at the bottom of the track. He was not injured, but was out of the race.
By Lap 178, Matt Kenseth was in the front after again winning the race off of pit road, and he was leading at the green at Lap 180 when a lapped Juan Pablo Montoya slid up the track and pushed Kenseth up higher. Kyle Busch then took the lead and held it until Carl Edwards went past him at Lap 215.
At Lap 235, there were 100 laps left in the race and Edwards led by 2.171 seconds over Kyle Busch; that lead kept widening until Edwards came in for quick adjustments at Lap 283. Busch, meantime, took four new tires and made many adjustments in an effort to regain the momentum from earlier in the race.
Another debris caution at Lap 294, then Edwards led to the green at Lap 298.
Martin Truex, Jr. started the race at the 12th position and was having a strong performance moving through the field, but smoke began filling the driver's compartment and his car began to slow. The sixth yellow flag was his engine finally blowing at Lap 330.
Leader Edwards stayed out during the caution and the 10 cars in the lead split right down the middle - five pitted for tires to try to chase down the leaders, and the five leaders stayed out.
By Lap 337 coming to the green-white-checkered flag, Edwards had the race well in hand and was preparing for his traditional backflip.
Jeff Burton continues to lead the Sprint Cup standings, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards
There were six cautions for 27 laps and 16 lead changes among six drivers.