Carl Edwards was in the midst of a brutal winless streak heading into the 2013 Subway Fresh Fit 500.
Well, that streak is now over.
After a winless streak stretching 70 races, Edwards finally crossed the checkered flag with a victory on Sunday, complete with a post-race backflip.
After leading for 44 laps, Edwards was overtaken on Lap 191 by Dale Earnhardt Jr. But Edwards roared back on Lap 240 as he won the race off of pit road.
There was a lot of radio chatter between Edwards and crew chief Jimmy Fennig down the stretch, ranging from concerns about Edwards damaging his mirror to worries about the amount of fuel remaining.
Earnhardt's strong performance wasn't that surprising. Entering the race, he had two wins and eight top-10 finishes at Phoenix. He had an average finish of 18.238 at the track as well.
Earnhardt finished in fifth place, leading 47 laps in total.
Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson led for just one lap, but was in the thick of it throughout the entire race, pressuring the leader constantly. He finished in second place.
Brad Keselowski also ran well, breaking into the top three with just over 35 laps remaining.
After an impressive showing at the Daytona 500, Danica Patrick suffered a big crash on the Lap 184, effectively taking her out of the race. She was in 26th place before the accident.
Denny Hamlin, the winner in Phoenix last year, finished in third place. He didn't lead any laps, but he stayed in contention throughout.
Finishing in ninth place was Jeff Gordon, who has won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 twice since 2005.
Ryan Newman, who won in Phoenix in 2010, finished a disappointing 40th. Meanwhile, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, who finished first in 2005 and 2006 respectively, placed 27th and 13th.
Kurt and Kyle Busch struggled throughout. They fell behind early on and brushed the wall with a little more than 50 laps to go.
There were a startling amount of cautions during the race. By Lap 249, there had already been 39 laps under caution. With just three laps to go, the eighth caution of the day came. It was brutal for drivers worrying about their fuel.
Here's a look at the leaderboard:
|5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.|
Matt Willis of ESPN noted the following during the race:
Last time Carl Edwards won at Phoenix, he snapped a 70-race winless streak. Today, he enters with a 70-race winless streak. #NASCAR— Matt Willis (@MattWillisESPN) March 3, 2013
Danica Patrick got in a big wreck down the stretch, but fortunately she was OK. FOX SPORTS: NASCAR tweeted:
Ben Maller of Fox Sports radio and NBC Sports tweeted out an interesting stat:
Between 2003 and 2009, three drivers – Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick – won eight of 12 Phoenix races.— Ben Maller (@benmaller) March 3, 2013
David Caraviello of NASCAR.com noted Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s move to the top three:
By the way, some driver named Dale Earnhardt Jr. has sneaked up to third.— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) March 3, 2013
Jennifer Calandrillo, who does PR and marketing for Brad Keselowski, tweeted an update on Lap 240:
Carl Edwards wins the race off of pit road and he gains the lead.. Jr in second as we come to the green flag for this restart.— Jennifer Calandrillo (@InfieldJen) March 3, 2013