Carl Edwards took the checkered flag in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday to drive his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford into victory lane and celebrate snapping a 70-race winless streak.
"We're back," Edwards declared in victory lane. "This is going to be good."
Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet got its nose out in front of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin as the two crossed the finish line. As a result, Johnson took runner-up honors and Hamlin was credited with third.
The third-place finish gave Hamlin's crew chief Darian Grubb his fourth top-five finish in as many races on PIR's new configuration. Hamlin started the race in the back because of an engine change.
"I didn't have much all day. Darian and the pit crew carried us," Hamlin said. "We overachieved today, and that's what you have to do when you don't have a good car."
Brad Keselowski finished fourth in the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford while Dale Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet rounded out the top-five.
Mark Martin started on the pole in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and led the way until he hit pit road on lap 50 during a caution. Several drivers stayed out, included Juan Montoya in the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet and the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. As a result, they restarted in the top-two spots.
Biffle got by Montoya to take the lead on lap 57. Meanwhile, Martin lost several positions when headed down pit road again a few laps later because of a loose wheel.
Martin found himself back up front when the fourth caution of the race came out on lap 99 by staying out while everyone else pitted. Edwards got off pit road first to restart second, but Keselowski took the position from him right after the restart. Keselowski then improved his position again by taking the lead from Martin on lap 127.
Keselowski held on to the top spot until the next caution on lap 141. Everyone made pit stops, but several drivers took only two tires to Keselowski's four to beat the reigning Sprint Cup champion off pit road.
Edwards got back up front by taking two, while Johnson claimed second and Earnhardt third. All three held their positions until the sixth caution of the race came out on lap 196. Earnhardt then got off pit road first to take the lead and Edwards second. But Johnson and the No. 20 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Matt Kenseth quickly got by Edwards, shuffling him back to fourth.
Edwards got back to the lead by getting off pit road first during the seventh caution of the race on lap 237. He kept the lead the rest of the way.
"Jimmy Fennig (Edward's crew chief) is the man," Edwards said. "This pit crew is unbelievable. They won this race for us today."
Earnhardt restarted second, but lost the spot to Johnson on the restart. A few laps later, Keselowski also passed Earnhardt for third.
The eighth caution of the race, which came out with three laps to go, resulted in a green-white-checker finish that left fuel mileage questionable for several teams. All the frontrunners were able to make it, though. Edwards pulled away on last lap while Johnson and Hamlin battled for runner-up honors behind him.
"Very exciting finish there," Johnson said. "To come across the line like that with Denny was exciting."
Finishing sixth through 10th were Clint Bowyer in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, Kenseth, Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.