Edwards wins a strange one at Pocono

Edwards wins a strange one at Pocono

A late-race caution set-up a green-white-checkered finish, with Carl Edwards leading with Brian Vickers laying wait for the lead. On the final restart with three laps to go, Edwards jumped out to an advantage over the field, but he didn't get...

A late-race caution set-up a green-white-checkered finish, with Carl Edwards leading with Brian Vickers laying wait for the lead. On the final restart with three laps to go, Edwards jumped out to an advantage over the field, but he didn't get the glory of winning the race under green.

Carl Edwards.
Photo by Getty Images.
With two laps to go, Bobby Labonte stuck the No. 18 Chevy into the wall forcing the race to be completed under caution.

Edwards traded the top spot with Brian Vickers most of the day. Vickers and the No. 25 team were superior to Edwards on pit road consistently beating the No. 99 Ford after service stops. Edwards, however, grabbed two tires on his final pit stop, getting out first. Despite further cautions, Edwards was never in danger of losing the race lead.

"I didn't realize this was Jack Roush's first win at Pocono," said Edwards. "This is a really emotional win for me, I don't know why.I can't describe it, it means a lot to me.I don't know what to say, we won at Pocono.

"This is awesome."

As has become a custom for Edwards, he performed the ceremonial race- winning back flip before going to victory lane. It is Edwards' second win of the season and second of his career.

It was quite an accomplishment for Edwards who had a crazy weekend. He was set to run the Busch race in Nashville in addition to the Cup race. But a rainout on Saturday, forced the Roush driver leading Busch points to make a decision. They chose to put Hank Parker, Jr. in the Busch car and keep Edwards in Pocono to protect his top ten spot in Nextel Cup standings.

But there was a hitch.

When Edwards, team owner Jack Roush, girlfriend Amanda Beard and three others landed back in Pocono at about 4:00 am they only had a pick-up truck to take the six back to the coach lot at the race track. Edwards was a sport.

He hopped in the back of the truck and rode in the open air back to PIR. It's hard to say what was more impressive; Edwards wild late night ride through the bucolic Pocono Mountains or the fact that Edwards hadn't even seen Pocono International Raceway until Friday morning.

"I am surprised," Edwards said. "I'd never seen the place until we rode through the tunnel a couple of days ago, but it was cool. This is one of the neatest parts about this deal is my pit crew and how flawlessly they performed. I've got the greatest pit crew in the business and they're just killing it on every stop.

"They're coming together. The other cool thing is the crowd. I couldn't believe it. The crowd was awesome."

Vickers earned his career-best finish with second. Vickers fell just short of Edwards on the races closing circuits but led a race high 121 laps.

"This feels great," said Vickers. "It's going to feel great until Midnight tonight and then we have to get up and start working all over again."

Joe Nemechek scored his first top-five result of the year with third.

"We had to work on the car and make major, major adjustments," said Nemechek. "All of a sudden the car was good and we started passing cars. We managed to work ourselves up there and get a top-five finish."

Kyle Busch and pole sitter Michael Waltrip complete the top five. (NASCAR amended the finishing results about one hour post race moving Waltrip to fifth, Jimmie Johnson to sixth and Mark Martin to seventh).

"We've had some really good cars," said Busch. "It's all about trying to build that consistency and run that way every week.it was neat that Hendrick came out of here with a two and a fourth."

There was trouble early for reigning Cup series champion Kurt Busch. On lap 29, Busch got loose and spun the No. 97 Roush Ford collecting the No. 44 Chevrolet of Terry Labonte.

Busch did manage to climb back to the top-five with 18 to go, but a flat tire relegated him to a 22nd place result.

"I thought we were going to get a good finish," Busch said. "I thought we could stay out. We're a team that normally doesn't abuse tires. We could have got a top five, but the left-front blew and then we had trouble getting it back on because things were bent. It was a bummer day. I thought we could really turn it into a positive."

Busch wasn't the only one singing the blues at Pocono.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s season just seem to catch a break. Earnhardt cut a front tire on lap 56 forcing him to pit for fresh tires. On lap 68, Earnhardt cut another tire catching his wheel well on fire. The No. 8 Chevy had to be brought to pit road for extensive repairs.

"Keep going I guess," commented Earnhardt when asked what the team does now. "We had some bad luck, we had two flat tires. There was nothing we could do. The tire had too much camber.we got five laps down and it was going to be nearly impossible to make that up."

He finished 33rd and falls to 16th in points - 500 points behind leader Johnson.

Tire problems were the headline of the event. Kasey Kahne suffered three and Ricky Rudd six. All-in-all 11 other racers also had failure problems for a grand total of 22 flat tires. Prompting the dreaded sentence over NASCAR race control, "Goodyear engineers please report to the NASCAR trailer."

"It's a flat track and the front left tire takes a lot of abuse," says Rick Heinrich, Goodyear product manager. "The set-ups we've seen on some cars are very abusive to the let front outside shoulder. Low air pressure can compound the problem. There are a lot of fast cars that haven't had any problems at all. We've had some driver feedback about the rumble strips and that could be contributing to the problem."

Jimmie Johnson continues to lead Nextel Cup point's standings. Greg Biffle (-119), Elliott Sadler (-277), Carl Edwards (-299), Mark Martin (-315), Ryan Newman (-325), Rusty Wallace (-340), Kevin Harvick (-343), Tony Stewart (-376), Kurt Busch (-377), Jamie McMurray (-392) and Jeremy Mayfield (-399) complete the top ten.

There were eight cautions for 32 laps and 14 lead changes among seven drivers.

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Series NASCAR-CUP