Edwards Rallies for Fifth-Place Finish at Inaugural Kentucky Race
SPARTA, KY -- Saturday night marked the inaugural race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Kentucky Speedway and the final laps provided quite a show in front of a sold-out grandstand. With few cautions early in the race, several at the end shuffled the running order. Carl Edwards got caught a lap down but took the wave around to return to the lead lap and battle back up to fifth by the final lap.
Edwards started the race seventh based on practice times from earlier in the day Friday since qualifying was rained out after about half the field had gone. The Aflac Ford was tight throughout much of the race, but crew chief Bob Osborne and the crew kept working on it every stop to help the handling.
After a competition caution on lap 32 there was not another caution for over 100 laps. Edwards had worked his way up to second place by the halfway point, but a caution on lap 141 sent him back to fifth when two cars stayed out and two took fuel only versus his two-tire stop. During the restart on lap 158 he was shuffled back to 10th but patiently worked his way forward again.
An untimely caution on lap 201 caught Edwards a lap down since he had just made a green-flag pit stop eight laps prior. Luckily he was able to take the wave around and return to the race on the lead lap in 14th place.
The car was still a bit too tight, but his final green-flag pit stop on lap 241 for two tires and fuel brought the car to life. Two more cautions slowed the final 13 laps and Edwards was able to capitalize on them. He was ninth when the race resumed with two laps to go. On a wild restart he moved into sixth place in one lap, and took over fifth by the time he crossed the finish line.
Kyle Busch won race followed by David Reutimann, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Edwards. Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, David Ragan, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 10.
"We came from way back," Edwards said. "Ryan Newman went three wide on that restart and I think it was him anyway. There were cars everywhere. That was a pretty wild last couple of laps there. I am really proud of my guys and our Aflac Ford Fusion. Obviously we would want to be over there in victory lane. We picked up one point on the points lead and are four points out of the lead now, so that is a good thing. It was a really good time, especially there at the end. That was some really, really hard driving out there."
Edwards and the No. 99 team remain second the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, four points behind Kyle Busch. The next race will be Sunday, July 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coverage will begin at 1:00 P.M. (CT) on TNT.