Carl Edwards led 115 of 325 laps to sweep both NASCAR Nextel Cup events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this season. Edwards took the lead early in Sunday's race, swapping the top spot several times before settling into the lead on lap 241 to earn his...
Carl Edwards led 115 of 325 laps to sweep both NASCAR Nextel Cup events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this season. Edwards took the lead early in Sunday's race, swapping the top spot several times before settling into the lead on lap 241 to earn his third career win.
Edwards and his Roush Racing team joked over the radio most of the afternoon that they had a trick inside the car and that the race was a lock, "I just had a trick that was working for me," Edwards laughingly said. "I wasn't going to tell anybody about it, so I'm still not going to tell anybody about it."
Whatever the trick was, it helped Edwards earn the 14th win for Ford this year.
Jeff Gordon grabbed second. Under the tutelage of new crew chief, Steve LeTarte, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy team finally seems to be turning their season around; Gordon won last weekend at Martinsville.
"Today was fantastic," said Gordon. "What a fun race it was. It's been a long time since we have been having fun at a mile-and-a-half racetrack."
Mark Martin came back from an early penalty for speeding on pit road to score third, "I had such a good race car that I wasn't too flipped out about it. I knew we could get back up there.we got back where we belonged with what we had. Just an incredible race car today, if I could drive cars like that every week I would race until I was 60."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth completed the top five.
Ryan Newman led the field to the green flag but Elliott Sadler pulled a fast move on the outside to grab the front spot from the No. 12 Dodge. Sadler's reign at the top wasn't very long, as Edwards managed to pass the No. 38 Ford a lap later.
Edwards was out front when the first caution came out at lap seven for an incident between Mike Skinner, Carl Long and Rusty Wallace. Sadler chose to stay out inheriting the lead on the restart at lap 10.
Edwards found his way back to the top spot but was quickly passed by teammate Martin. Martin led at lap 51 when Sadler came down pit road just as the caution flag came out trapping the Robert Yates Racing No. 38 Ford a lap down.
The leaders pitted and Martin got nailed for speeding on pit road sending Earnhardt into the lead. The third caution came out on lap 65 giving Sadler the 'lucky dog' and sending all the leaders back to pit road.
DEI driver Earnhardt, once again managed to come out on top followed by Kenseth and Edwards. Earnhardt had a healthy lead on the field, losing it briefly to Edwards on lap 106, but quickly getting back by the No. 99 Ford to keep the lead.
The DEI No. 8 Chevy was leading when Kurt Busch brought out the fourth yellow hitting the wall after cutting down a left rear tire. After service stops, Earnhardt again emerged as the race leader on the restart at lap 128.
Greg Biffle stayed out to inherit the lead as the rest of the grid came in for service. A two tire pit stop by the No. 21 Ford team of Ricky Rudd got him out in the second position.
Earnhardt, on four fresh tires, got back to the front by lap 150. The field was slowed again at lap 158 when the No. 1 of Martin Truex, Jr. scrapped the wall. Earnhardt continued to lead on the restart at lap 163.
By lap 180, Earnhardt had achieved a 10 second lead over the rest of the field. Twenty nine laps later, Edwards caught the back of the No. 8 Chevy as the two swapped spots. Edwards was out front when the eighth caution flew on lap 229 for a cut tire on the Dodge of Casey Mears.
The yellow brought the leaders to pit road with Martin coming out on top for the restart on lap 233. Martin gave way to Edwards on lap 241. Edwards was still in the lead when the ninth caution waved at lap 284 for debris.
In the end, no one had any muscle for Edwards as he easily wheeled the No. 99 Ford to victory lane where he performed his signature back-flip.
Tony Stewart leads the 2005 Chase class by 43 points over Jimmie Johnson. Greg Biffle (-75), Carl Edwards (-107), Ryan Newman (-107), Mark Martin (- 143), Matt Kenseth (-155), Rusty Wallace (-257), Kurt Busch (-260) and Jeremy Mayfield (-310) complete the top five.
"It's still too early to be getting eager about it," said Stewart of his championship lead who finished ninth today.
There were nine cautions for 39 laps and 27 lead changes among 12 drivers.