Flippin' Carl Edwards Drives Away at Bristol

Adam AmickSenior Writer IAugust 26, 2007

IconMemo to Cousin Carl: Next time, park your race car on a flatter surface before doing your signature backflip.

Your landings are getting sloppy, and you could hurt yourself.

While Carl Edwards' flip wasn't pretty, though, his performance on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway was a thing of beauty. 

After pole-sitter Kasey Kahne led the first two-thirds of the Sharpie 500 at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile," Edwards overtook Kahne's Dodge and drove to victory through a series of caution flags.

The repaving and reconfiguration of Bristol's high banks produced great side-by-side racing, and the first 100-plus of 500 laps went without a yellow. The clean run put a considerable strain on the drivers, whose bodies were subject to 3.5 G's in the turns. 

Races at Thunder Valley are normally punctuated by cautions at regular intervals. On Saturday, the trouble didn't start until lap 209, when a blown engine handed Denny Hamlin his first DNF since last season.

Things were looking good again after that...until David Ragan brought out the yellow three times in a row. 

A number of top-running drivers, including points-leader Jeff Gordon, were caught a lap down after pitting under the green flag. Gordon would later return to the lead lap, only to be caught in a multi-car pileup on lap 452 when Martin Truex Jr. gave Ricky Rudd the boot.

Rudd hit the wall, Matt Kenseth hit Jimmie Johnson, who hit Rudd—and Gordon, David Stremme, and Juan Pablo Montoya's cars were all damaged in the fray.

The saying "cautions breed cautions" rang true, as the final 50 laps were spent bouncing from green to yellow and back again. Kahne wasn't able to hang with Edwards on the restarts, and the former would have to settle for runner-up in the Cup race following a win in the Busch event. 

Not a bad weekend, considering how poorly the season has gone for Kahne—and indeed for all three Evernham/Gillett Motorsports teams. 

Clint Bowyer finished third, Tony Stewart raced from a 23rd-place starting position for fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth.

With two races left before the cutoff, Junior's Chase chances were hurt by Kurt Busch's sixth-place finish. The points race has tightened from tenth through fourteenth—if Truex, Kevin Harvick, or Busch falter, Junior and Ryan Newman are in position to vault past them into contention.

As it stands, Gordon (19th on Saturday), Stewart, Hamlin, Kenseth, and Edwards are locked into the Chase. Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton (sans AT&T logos), and Kyle Busch should secure their places next weekend at California Speedway. 

All things considered, Saturday's was a good race. A repaved track and the Car Of Tomorrow made for happy bedfellows, and I believe the Thunder Valley crowd left happy. 

Edwards' win moves him closer to the top when the Chase begins, and the first COT win for a Roush-Fenway Ford shows their program is coming to life—at the right time of the season.

Two songs to go, and nine drivers are vying for seven seats in the Chase for NASCAR's Nextel Cup...

In other NASCAR racing action at Bristol, Johnny Benson benefitted from a spin by leaders Travis Kvapil and Kyle Busch in the waning laps to win the Craftsman Truck Series O'Reilly 200 on Wednesday night. Friday night, Kasey Kahne survived a late-race battle with Ryan Newman, Jason Leffler, and David Reutimann to take honors in the Food City 250 Busch Series race. 


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