Phoenix NASCAR: Carl Edwards ends victory drought
|Sunday, March 3rd 2013, 23:30 GMT|
Carl Edwards ended a barren run stretching back to March 2011 by winning the season's second NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix.
Edwards beat erstwhile leader Dale Earnhardt Jr out of the pits in the final stops, then nursed his fuel load to the finish to win for the first time since Las Vegas two years and 70 races ago.
Going into the closing laps, the Roush Fenway Ford had Jimmie Johnson's Hendrick Chevrolet and Brad Keselowski's Penske Ford hunting it down as the entire field tried to save fuel.
A green-white-chequered finish after a puncture for Ken Schrader was a headache Edwards did not need, yet he was able to break clear as Johnson and Keselowski tussled with each other.
Their battle became so intense that Denny Hamlin was able to surge down the inside of both, grabbing second for a few moments before Johnson inched ahead as they banged doors on the way to the flag.
Hamlin held on to third, having started at the back following a pre-race engine change. His Joe Gibbs Toyota team-mate Kyle Busch had the same issue, but could only finish 23rd after an early spin.
Earnhardt faded to fifth behind Keselowski, and ahead of Clint Bowyer, who recovered from a messy pitstop for sixth.
Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton completed the top 10, followed by returnee AJ Allmendinger.
Alternative fuel strategies allowed Juan Pablo Montoya and Greg Biffle to squabble over the lead for a spell. They eventually finished 12th and 17th.
Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne were also victory contenders before their cars faded, leaving them 13th and 19th.
Polesitter Mark Martin led 75 laps, including the entire first stint, but an additional pitstop for a loose wheel put him out of sequence and 21st was his final result.
Danica Patrick's race came to a violent end on lap 184 (pictured above), when a puncture sent her into first the wall and then the path of a flat-out David Ragan. Both drivers were unhurt.
Results - 316 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 3h00m15.000s 2. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 1.024s 3. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota + 1.036s 4. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford + 1.305s 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 1.596s 6. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 1.840s 7. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota + 2.267s 8. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 2.416s 9. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 2.422s 10. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 2.472s 11. AJ Allmendinger Phoenix Chevrolet + 2.638s 12. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 2.787s 13. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 2.930s 14. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet + 2.934s 15. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 3.261s 16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford + 3.405s 17. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 3.430s 18. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 3.526s 19. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 3.723s 20. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 3.982s 21. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota + 4.045s 22. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 4.083s 23. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota + 4.236s 24. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 1 lap 25. David Reutimann BK Toyota + 1 lap 26. Joey Logano Penske Ford + 1 lap 27. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet + 1 lap 28. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet + 3 laps 29. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 3 laps 30. David Stremme Swan Toyota + 3 laps 31. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota + 5 laps 32. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet + 7 laps 33. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet + 10 laps 34. Ken Schrader FAS Lane Ford + 16 laps* 35. Jose Wise Front Row Ford + 21 laps 36. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 32 laps * Not running at chequered flag Retirements: David Gilliland Front Row Ford 237 laps David Ragan Front Row Ford 186 laps Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 184 laps Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 137 laps Scott Speed Leavine Ford 88 laps Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 34 laps Scott Riggs Xxxtreme Ford 19 laps