By Amanda Vincent, NASCAR reporter
- Edwards claims 3rd win in Vegas
- Stewart tied with Kurt Busch in points
- Ambrose has best Sprint Cup finish
Tony Stewart may have dominated much of the Kobalt Tools 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, but Carl Edwards was up front when it counted -- at the end. Edwards led 69 laps on his way to claiming his third win in the last five races, going back to the final two races of the 2010 season, and Ford's fourth in the last five.
"You don't get a good race car like that very often, but we had another one today," Edwards said. "If you look at the way we qualified and the way we ran, the Fords are back, and we're strong. That's due to a lot of work from these two guys next to me and the guys back at the shop, Robbie Reiser, everyone has worked really well together, and it's just great to drive these race cars.
Team owner Jack Roush commented, "The team worked especially hard over the winter on things that they recognized had been strengths. They tried to make those stronger. And things that were lacking a little bit, they worked extra hard to try to correct those deficiencies. Right now as I look at our program, except for the judgments that we'd make and for somebody that falls down and for running over pieces of debris on the racetrack, our Fords have never run better, and I can't wait to see how this year unfolds, so I'm really excited to see what we have in front of us."
Today I felt like we had a solid top-three car all day. That's three different types of racetracks with success on all three. I'm really excited about this season. This is a great start.
Stewart dominated much of the race, though, leading 130 of the first 155 laps, before being slapped with a pit road penalty when he pulled out of his pit box and took an air hose with him. That happened during a caution that was brought out by David Gilliland on lap 150 when a right front tire issue sent his car into the wall. As a result of the penalty, Stewart was forced to restart the race at the back of the lead lap/
With Stewart in the back, Edwards, who had run second to Stewart during the earlier stages of the race, assumed the lead. Meanwhile, Stewart worked his way back to 14th-place by the time another caution came out on lap 195 when Jeff Gordon hit the wall. Under that caution, Stewart took on only two tires while most of the rest of the field took four to put himself back in the lead.
Despite only having two fresh tires, Stewart pulled away from the pack almost immediately upon restart. It looked like the call to take two by his crew chief, Darian Grubb, was a good one until the final cycle of green flag pit stops started with about 32 laps to go.
Stewart started the cycle of stops by coming in for four, since he had only taken two on the previous stop. A few other drivers also opted for four fresh tires, but most took only two this time around. Edwards was among the drivers who only took two on the final stop, and as a result, retook the lead from Stewart and never looked back.
After the cycle of green stops, Stewart found himself in the third spot, behind Edwards and Juan Montoya. He was able to get back one of those positions by getting pass Montoya, but he wasn't able to catch Edwards in the final laps.
"Real disappointed," stated Stewart. "I honestly think we had the car to beat today, we just gave it away. I don't know what happened on the pit stop there, but we had a miscue and had a penalty and had to go to the back, and unfortunately it kind of dealt our cards for us. Darian made a good call getting us the track position back, but it also showed everybody else that they could do it, too, and we couldn't run two and a half runs on a set of left-side tires. Just shot ourselves in the foot two weeks in a row now."
After the dominant performance, Stewart had to settle for second, but he wasn't happy about it: "Second sucks!"
Montoya finished third. "It was good. As Tony said, he had the fastest car, but our car was very good all day. We battled between sixth and eighth place and then a little bit better and a little bit better. It was good; we were getting better, but we just never closed in. We could make the car turn through the middle, we just couldn't touch the throttle and the other way around. It was just touch and go. But it's good. You know, we really needed a good result after last week, and it was nice to get it here."
Marcos Ambrose was fourth and Stewart's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate, Ryan Newman, rounded out the top-five. Stewart may have been unhappy with his second-place finish, but Ambrose was more than pleased with his first top-five since joining Richard Petty Motorsports.
"It was a great day," Ambrose said. "It was a great first top-five for RPM."