In a race that seemed to provide an ever-changing group of contenders throughout Sunday afternoon, Carl Edwards outlasted NASCAR’s best drivers in a green-white-checkered finish to win at Phoenix International Raceway.
Edwards celebrated his victory by making his patented back-flip off his #99 Subway Ford Fusion’s driver-side window ledge. After a win at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2010, he jumped into the crowd with the checkered flag in hand. He repeated his mosh-pit style celebration again on Sunday with perhaps a bit more caution this time. Still, the fans loved it, and so did he.
"This win means as much, if not more, as any win I've ever had,” said Edwards.
Edwards had reason to be happy. He broke a 70-race winless streak, dating back to 2011. His last win came at Las Vegas – site of this week’s race. It was Edwards' 20th career Sprint Cup win as he led the most laps with 122.
"I thought it was going to be easy until we got that caution," said Edwards of veteran Ken Schrader's scrape of the wall with less than three laps to go. It set up the overtime laps.
Earlier in the day he told a news conference crowd he was optimistic about his chances and it came true.
Jimmie Johnson remained hot as he vied for a second consecutive win in Race 2 of 36 the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway November 15-17. Johnson followed his Daytona 500 victory with a runner up finish at Phoenix. With the result, Johnson extended his series lead to eight points ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished fifth.
Johnson’s hard-fought battle came up slightly short. Although he couldn’t make the pass for the win, Johnson was able to hold off a challenge by Denny Hamlin who finished third.
Earnhardt led the 316-lap race for 47 circuits, but rallied late to score his second straight top-five finish.
“Well, I think we used strategy to get up front, on pit road, to get ourselves track position. We had a pretty good car,” said Earnhardt. “We haven’t been good here so that was a good run for us. I was a little disappointed because I think we could have won. And you hate to give away them points. Hopefully it’s a sign for the rest of the season and that we’re going to be all right.”
After a strong run at the Daytona 500, Danica Patrick's encore came up a little short as she wrecked on the 185th lap of the Subway Fresh Fit 500. She was on the lead lap but was in 26th place when her tire blew heading into Turn Four.
“It would have been nice to get these points here especially off of our eighth last weekend (in the Daytona 500), and then have a decent run in (Las) Vegas,” Patrick said. “But, these points in the beginning of the year are so important. We were making progress, but unfortunately, our day ended early."
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Las Vegas on Sunday, March 10 (4 p.m. ET, FOX)—Race 3 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 15-17). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 17.
Tickets for NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 15-17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—go on sale to the general public on May 1. Renew your championship tickets today! Be a part of the most exciting race weekend in America November 15-17. Save as much as $40 per ticket and keep the same seat as last year.
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NASCAR Ford Championship Weekend Renewal Deadline: March 29, 2013
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