Edwards claims the victory at Michigan

Tom Giacchi looked like the most relieved guy on pit road. Giacchi is the motor coach driver for Carl Edwards and made a deal with Edwards that he wouldn't shave until Edwards won a race. He didn't expect that it would take more than a year and...

Tom Giacchi looked like the most relieved guy on pit road.

Giacchi is the motor coach driver for Carl Edwards and made a deal with Edwards that he wouldn't shave until Edwards won a race. He didn't expect that it would take more than a year and a half.

Edwards claimed the checkered flag in the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway and after 19 hairy months, Giacchi finally gets to break out his razor.

"I've got great friends," said Edwards, who led a race-high 63 laps. "Tom grew up down the street from me. We're best friends and I just hated to see him like that. I'd wake up in the morning and Tom would walk in and I'd just laugh at him. Nobody will recognize him next week."

Edwards had the fastest car in both practice sessions on Saturday and started the race 12th. He was challenging for the lead early but was forced to rally from a pit road penalty for speeding. He restarted 26th, but came on strong with 75 laps to go.

"Carl did a phenomenal job coming back through the field," said crew chief Bob Osborne. "I believe that was the key to the race. He put it behind him and had a level head and got it back up front."

He dove under Kurt Busch heading into Turn 1 to take second place and then took the lead from Johnson on lap 132.

Edwards dropped back in the field under green flag stops, but grabbed the lead back from Johnson on lap 166 and held off a late charge by Martin Truex Jr. to claim his first win since Texas in November 2005.

"To me, second place would have felt the same as chopping off my arm today," said Edwards, who was making his 100th career start at the track where he made his Nextel Cup debut in 2003. "I wanted to win. It was really hard to stay composed and just keep doing what I was doing. I lost 52 races in a row; I've learned to be able to deal with that a little better now. I just did the best I could and it just worked out."

Truex picked up his third straight top-five finish. After winning at Dover two weeks ago, he followed up with a third-place effort at Pocono and was strong again in Michigan. He took the lead from Johnson on lap 10 and led 51 laps before being caught up in a wreck on lap 75. He worked his way back into the top five during the next 100 laps and was closing on Edwards in the closing laps until he scraped the outside wall.

"We had a great race car," said Truex, who led 56 laps. "I had to use my car up real bad coming up through traffic. I was having a hard time paying attention to what exactly I needed on my race car. It got a little too tight in the end."

Tony Stewart made up for a miserable start to the week. He failed to qualify on time on Friday and needed to use an owner points provisional to get into the field. Then on Saturday, Stewart got into the back of David Gilliland at the entrance of pit road causing damage to his Home Depot Chevy. But on Sunday, Stewart charged his way through the field and was into the top five by the midway point of the race. He finished third and set a new track record for the greatest improvement from a starting position.

"We were all here until 4:30 yesterday working on our front fender," Stewart said. "Those guys never complained about it even being a little behind because of the place the No. 38 car put us in yesterday."

Casey Mears started 13th and spent most of the day among the leaders. He finished fourth while Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 23rd but quickly made his way towards the front. He was in the top-10 within 50 laps and finished fifth.

"We had a good enough car to run better than fifth but I'm happy as heck for where we finished," said Earnhardt, who was making his first start since announcing that he was joining Hendrick Motorsports next season. "We were as good as anybody at the end I think.

Ryan Newman started fourth and was challenging for the lead early in the race, but fell two laps behind when he had to pit with a flat tire on lap 12. He wrecked on the backstretch shortly after a restart on lap 75 to bring out the third of four cautions.

"We had a real good car, but we didn't have a car that could have beat Carl Edwards today," said Newman, who finished 37th. "We just caught a piece of debris or something and it popped that tire."

Brian Vickers was also having a solid run when he was collected in the reaction to Newman's spin on lap 75. Matt Kenseth was also caught up in that incident and limped to a 42nd place finish.

"I was just coming off the corner there and went two-wide and Martin (Truex) slowed up a little bit," said Kenseth, who finished off the lead lap for the first time this season and slipped to fourth in the championship standings. "I just barely got into the back of him and he got a little sideways and I had to get out of the gas. We were both going to be okay and then I got hit from behind and then everybody just came piling off in there. I just got caught up in someone else's wreck."

Points leader Jeff Gordon was also strong early, but struggled with a loose condition in the later stages of the race. He gave up track position to pit under caution and make changes to his car. He worked his way back to a ninth place finish.

"You'll always take a top 10, especially when we got as far back as we did," said Gordon, who left Michigan with a 264 point lead in the standings. "We were really awesome with the DuPont Chevrolet early in the day and especially when we took two tires. We were incredible but we took four tires and the car was just completely sideways loose. I just couldn't hang on to it."

Jimmie Johnson started on the front row and grabbed the lead from pole-sitter J.J. Yeley on the first lap. Johnson was strong throughout the race but had his day end badly when he ran out of fuel before hitting pit road in the closing laps. He finished 19th.

Denny Hamlin finished 14th, but took advantage of bad days for Kenseth and Johnson to move into second place in the championship standings.

Michael Waltrip was thrilled with his 10th place finish. He qualified 18th to make the field for just the third time this season and hopes that today's run will help build some momentum for his team for the rest of the season.

"It's really great for our team to have run that well all day today and my guys did a great job on pit road," said Waltrip, who hired Terry Labonte to drive his car at Sonoma next week. "I think we can build on a lot that has gone on lately."

Edwards' win was just the second for Ford this season. Kenseth won in California in November while Chevrolet was taken the checkered flag in the other 13 races. The Chevy camp had just one win at MIS in the past eight years while Ford has won seven times since then and Dodge has been to victory lane five times.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , J.J. Yeley , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , David Gilliland , Denny Hamlin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports