Carl Edwards Surges into Championship Points Lead
Jimmie Johnson moved up to third in the NASCAR Championship standings with a win at Kansas. Johnson is creeping towards a sixth consectuive Sprint Cup trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway (photo courtesy: Tom Whitmore, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Defending Ford 400 race winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Carl Edwards, saved what could have been a devastating blow to his title hopes with a fifth place finish at Kansas Speedway. Edwards came into the fourth race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup hoping to finally capture a win at his home track. But after starting outside the front row, Edwards’ day began to go quickly downhill.
This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
He fell as far down as 19th in the opening laps of the race and things got even worse when Edwards fell two laps back of the leaders.
But he managed to get back on the lead lap and through a series of adjustments to make his Roush Fenway Racing Ford handle better, was able to make his way to the front of the field and come home fifth when the checkered flag waved. Edwards was a popular preseason pick to unseat five-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson this fall when NASCAR crowns a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
“I cannot believe we finished fifth,” Edwards said. “It feels like a win. That's the best we've done with the worst, the most we've done with a car that wasn't capable of winning ever, so I'm really proud of my guys who made good adjustments.
“I just cannot believe from the way the day started, to finish like that is spectacular.”
A series of changes from when Edwards qualified second on Friday to his pair of practice sessions on Saturday were what made the No. 99 car such a handful to drive in the race. But with encouragement from crew chief Bob Osborne and some well-time cautions, Edwards was able to get his car dialed in to make a charge in the final segment for the solid finish.
In the aftermath of the effort, Edwards finds himself one point on top of Kevin Harvick for the Chase lead heading to Charlotte.
“There is still so much racing left,” Edwards said. “It feels… we've run four races, it feels like we've run 400. There's a lot that can happen in the next six races. You know, I have a feeling there will be more moments that define this championship.”
Jimmie Johnson turned in a dominating performance and held off Kasey Kahne to win his first race of the Chase at Kansas.
Johnson led 179 of the day’s 272 laps but had to outrun Kahne on a green-white-checkered finish to lock down his victory. At the finish the five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was 0.548-seconds ahead of Kahne.
“Very happy to have had such a great car here today,” said Johnson. “That last restart was a little hairy but we took the outside groove and got a nice jump when the green came out. Just carried a lot of momentum around Kasey there through one and we were able to stay out front the rest of the way. Great day for us.”
It was Johnson’s first win since his Talladega victory in April and in the process moved him to third in the standings and only four points out of the lead. Johnson put career win number 55 in the record book tying him with Rusty Wallace for eighth on the all-time victory list. He also scored the 199th Sprint Cup Series victory for Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson looked as if he would cruise to an easy win until his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon blew an engine on lap 264 to bring out the race’s sixth caution.
That set up the dramatic restart and Johnson’s stellar jump was the difference in picking up the checkered flag.
“Obviously that last caution was not what we wanted to see especially now that I found out it was for the 24,” Johnson said. “We just had to go to work one last time and were able to get the job done.
“There’s still so much racing left in this Chase that I’m not really thinking about the standings. Glad we moved up but we know there’s a long way to go.”
Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose and Mark Martin completed the first ten finishers.
Other Chase drivers in Sunday’s field included Kyle Busch (11th), Kurt Busch (13th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14th), Tony Stewart (15th), Denny Hamlin (16th), Ryan Newman (18th) and Gordon, who finished 34th dropping him back to 10th in the standings.
“Really never saw it coming,” said Gordon. “We had some problems there with handling on that one stop and had our hands full to try and get back when we took four tires on the next stop. But to have the engine let go is pretty devastating and we’re going to have to dig back from this.”
Round 5 of the Chase is Sunday at Charlotte. This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.