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Carl Edwards Wins Rain-Shortened AAA Texas 500 To Join Jimmie Johnson In Championship 4

Carl Edwards Wins Rain-Shortened AAA Texas 500 To Join Jimmie Johnson In Championship 4

by November 7, 2016 0 comments

FORT WORTH, Texas– Carl Edwards punched his ticket into the Championship 4 round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in the rain-shortened AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday night.

The scheduled day race was postponed to Sunday night after rain moved through the area just after pre-race ceremonies, forcing a lengthy delay for track drying. The planned 334-lap event saw all but 40 laps ran before rain entered the picture for a second time, and NASCAR made the call to end the event after bringing out the red flag.

Carl Edwards, the driver of the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing went into Sunday’s race with the mindset that he must win in the final two races of the Round of 8, or he would not have a spot in the Championship 4. Coming off of a 36th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway, Edwards was able to rebound as he went on to win his 28th career race and clinch his guaranteed ticket to race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. Edwards led only 36 laps throughout Sunday’s race.

“This is huge. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” said Edwards after capturing the win. “This is cool. This team is really worked hard all year and man it’s just really cool. That’s all we said we needed was a shot and now we’re going to go to Homestead and we’re going to do what we have to do. This was a great test. We came here and knew what we had to do, we performed the way we needed to and I really believe we can do that at Homestead.”

Joey Logano led 178 laps in his No. 22 AAA Ford at Texas Motor Speedway before having to settle for a second-place finish. Logano expressed his disappointment for not being able to capture the victory after the race.

“We had a good AAA Fusion that was capable of winning the race,” Logano said. “We just lost our track position on a green-flag cycle and got our balance off a little bit. We got it fixed and got it going and had a good restart at the end to get back to second but it seemed like we needed maybe five or 10 more laps to try to catch the 19 (car of Edwards) there. We were making up about three-tenths a lap when the caution came out. It is what it is. We are disappointed with second which is a good thing.”

Edwards trailed Martin Truex, Jr. before an 11-second pit stop propelled him to the lead. Truex Jr., who finished third in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boat Toyota, led 66 laps, but was never able to recover the lost position on pit road.

“We battled hard, Truex Jr. said. “We fought. Had a great racecar at times. Looked like we were in position to have a shot at winning. Then the last pit stop, we had a little bit of an issue. Then inside restarts after that are just really tough. The leader on the outside has a big advantage. I guess all in all, happy with third, but wish we could have won tonight.”

Chase Elliott finished fourth and Chase contender, Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Busch doesn’t have a win to guarantee him a spot in the final round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but he’s ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin for the fourth and final transfer spot. With Johnson and Edwards each having a victories, Busch sits in the final transfer spot and is tied with Joey Logano in the points. Kenseth is only one point behind them. Hamlin trails Busch by two points.

“Yeah, that’s the key right there is we’ve worked a ton about everywhere but especially at Phoenix and getting better there,” Busch said. “Carl (Edwards) almost won that race in spring so good job to the 19 bunch getting themselves back in the game here tonight. That gives one (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) car for sure going to Homestead. We’d like to make it two more but all in all we’ve had a good season this season. Good to see Carl win here, get himself back in. We want to be one of the other Gibbs cars that get to go there at Homestead to battle this out.”

Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch find themselves deep in the Round of 8 standings as they are the final two drivers who haven’t secured their chances to race for the championship. Harvick sits slightly ahead of Kurt Busch, but even his sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway couldn’t propel him to a higher position in the point standings. Kurt Busch struggled the most of all eight drivers in Chase contention with a 20th-place finish, one lap down.

“We just missed the set-up,” Busch said. It’s a Chase race, it’s kind of important and we missed it again.”

With just one race remaining in the Round of 8 as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend, Jimmie Johnson currently tops the Chase standings after winning at Martinsville Speedway last weekend and finishing 11th in Sunday’s race. With Edwards’ win, he joins Johnson as the only other driver with a secured spot in the Championship 4 at the season finale for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The only Chase driver that was involved in any incidents on the track Sunday night was Harvick making minor contact with Austin Dillon. The driver of the No. 3 Realtree/Bad Boy Chevrolet moved up in front of Havick, sending Dillon into the outside wall on lap 264. The wreck escalated as the No. 13 of Casey Mears and No. 44 of Brian Scott slid through the grass, damaging both cars.

Dillon felt as though the incident was avoidable and noted a former remark from previous tensions between the two drivers.

“No, he (Harvick) sucked down on my door all the way, like on it,” Dillon said. “I get it, you’ve got to hold a guy down, but he sucked down on my door and got me tight. That is the reason I slid up in front of him and then he didn’t lift he just turned me. There are two more weeks left.”

Dillon added, “I mean, he is tucked down to my door tighter than anybody did all night. He knew how tight he was on my door and that is why I got tight and slid up in front of him. He didn’t check (up), but he had the opportunity to. He didn’t like it that the silver spoon kid was out-running him tonight. So we will be alright, we have two weeks left and we just want to come out and win a race.”

Harvick dispelled any claims that the contact was intentional in his post-race interview as apologized for the incident.

“I just want to apologize to the 3 (Austin Dillon),” Harvick said. “He kind of came up there and he slid in front of me and got loose and when he checked up I hit him again. That was not anything I wanted to see.”

The AAA Texas 500 may have started hours later than scheduled and ended 40 laps short of the planned distance, but the 293 laps raced clearly shook up the standings for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, November 13 will be the final race of the Round of 8. Live coverage will begin at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).

Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images

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Camille Jones

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