Richmond NASCAR: Carl Edwards wins as Chase field set

Carl Edwards won the Richmond NASCAR Sprint Cup race as the Chase field was set and Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski headlined those missing out

Richmond NASCAR: Carl Edwards wins as Chase field set

Kurt Busch sealed his and the underdog Furniture Row's Chase place with a battling runner-up spot, while Ryan Newman narrowly missed out on a title shot despite a storming late-race performance that ended with third place.

For most of the evening the lead fight was between Kurt Busch and Keselowski, in a fascinating contest that varied as their cars surged or slumped across stints and Furniture Row either had sublime or troubled pitstops.

Keselowski dropped out of contention when the yellow came out midway through the penultimate pitstop sequence following a crash for Jimmie Johnson, trapping the champion in the midfield.

The same misfortune also interrupted Kevin Harvick's victory bid just as he had hit the front, with both having pitted under green moments before the caution.

Into the closing stages Roush Fenway driver Edwards and Kurt Busch were making the running, until Newman suddenly began a blistering charge from seventh to first.

A win would have cemented his Chase place, but when Clint Bowyer - another earlier leader - spun in the final laps, the leaders all pitted and Newman fell back again.

He could only get back to third, as Edwards beat Paul Menard (who took just two tyres at the stops) away at the final restart and then held Busch at bay to clinch the win.

Jamie McMurray was competitive throughout on the way to fourth ahead of Menard and brief race leader Matt Kenseth, who starts the Chase as top seed.

Martin Truex Jr scrapped to seventh place and therefore earned the final Chase wilcard spot on a tie-break over Newman.

Polesitter Gordon led for the first 49 laps but began tumbling backwards with high tyre wear.

A loose wheel then left him two laps down and outside the top 20, before he fought back to an eighth place that was not quite sufficient for the Chase.

Keselowski's hopes of a successful title defence faded away as he ultimately finished only 17th.

His Penske team-mate Joey Logano was off the pace all night and finished a distant 22nd, but clung on to a Chase spot.

It was a terrible race for erstwhile outright points leader Johnson.

Having missed qualifying due to the birth of his second daughter, Johnson struggled to make any progress from the back. A pitlane speeding penalty and a battery problem delayed him further even before his tyre-induced crash.

Final Chase line-up: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr.

Results - 400 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford            2h51m53.000s
 2.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet           +0.669s
 3.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            +0.812s
 4.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       +1.766s
 5.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet               +2.024s
 6.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota                  +2.124s
 7.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                    +2.310s
 8.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet                +2.520s
 9.  Mark Martin         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            +2.889s
10.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford                 +2.925s
11.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet               +3.027s
12.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford                 +3.103s
13.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet                +3.363s
14.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet                +3.520s
15.  AJ Allmendinger     JTG Daugherty Toyota              +3.643s
16.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       +3.694s
17.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                       +3.745s
18.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet               +4.011s
19.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota                  +4.907s
20.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                        +5.241s
21.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota                   +1 lap
22.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                        +1 lap
23.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                     +1 lap
24.  Brian Vickers       Waltrip Toyota                     +1 lap
25.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                    +2 laps
26.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                      +3 laps
27.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                        +3 laps
28.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                         +3 laps
29.  David Ragan         Front Row Ford                    +3 laps
30.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            +4 laps
31.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                 +4 laps
32.  David Reutimann     BK Toyota                         +5 laps
33.  Tony Raines         Circle Sport Chevrolet            +5 laps
34.  Landon Cassill      Hillman Chevrolet                 +5 laps
35.  Ryan Truex          Phoenix Chevrolet                 +5 laps
36.  JJ Yeley            Baldwin Chevrolet                 +7 laps
37.  Ken Schrader        FAS Lane Ford                     +7 laps
38.  David Stremme       Swan Toyota                       +9 laps
39.  Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                     +12 laps
40.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet               +28 laps

Retirements:

     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                   142 laps
     Reed Sorenson       Leavine Ford                     126 laps
     Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                      76 laps
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