Polesitter CARL EDWARDS won a fiercely fought battle with a teammate and a fellow competitor to take the win Saturday afternoon in the NASCAR Busch Series Arizona 200 Race Presented by I Walk The Line at Phoenix International Raceway. Afterwards he did his now-traditional back flip.
The Margin of Victory for the Rookie was 0.246 seconds ahead of another Rookie, CLINT BOWYER, who charged through the pack from his thirty-second starting position.
Roush Racer Edwards led twice for the most laps - 103. He was jumped at the start by DENNY HAMLIN, but regained the lead midway in the first half, and was dominant in the last half.
This was Edwards' fifth Busch victory, and third from the pole - all this Rookie year. He leads the Raybestos Rookie points and is third overall in the Championship standings.
Edwards said "Boy that was a real race. That was a lot of fun. At the end that was a fight for the win." Now he intends to get a good night's rest before tomorrow's Nextel Cup race, for which he has the pole. Edwards has won the last two Cup races. He is on a roll.
Third place finisher, Roush Racer MATT KENSETH also gained many positions - going from twenty-second to third. All this and a problematic pit stop in which he was over fuelled, causing spillage and tripping in the pits. No one was hurt. Kenseth and Edwards fought hard for position in the waning laps of the 200-lap race. Afterwards Kenseth said, "It was one of the most fun Busch races that I've had all year."
Fourth and fifth were KEVIN HARVICK and GREG BIFFLE.
Points leader and 2004 Busch Champion, MARTIN TRUEX, finished sixth despite a bit of trouble with his last pit stop. His wheelman had problems getting the tyre off and Truex hit one of his crew. No one was hurt. Truex still leads the Busch standings, 64 points ahead of Bowyer, but not enough to win the Championship today. Next week at Homestead, if Truex finishes twelfth or better he will clinch the title, no matter where Bowyer finishes.
There were six lead changes among five drivers. The caution flag flew six times for 36 laps - three times for accidents and three times for debris. All involved drivers were seen and released from the Care Centre. Thirty-two of the 43 starters finished the race, with 17 on the lead lap. The race lasted 2 hours, 2 minutes and 35 seconds. The average race speed was 97.893 mph.
The weather was sunny and warm with a fresh stiff breeze. The crowd was estimated at 55,000.
ERIN CROCKER had another character building race, crashing out for the second time this weekend. She had an incident with late entry BRANDON MILLER and both retired after being seen and released from the Infield Medical Centre. All drivers who crashed were seen and released. It has been a S. A. F. E. R. weekend so far.
NASCAR Nextel Cup 2004 Champion KURT BUSCH, was cited Friday night near the race track, for reckless driving, after being picked up for suspicion of driving under the influence. He was seen overdriving and pulled over, alcohol smelled by the officer, and Busch was not exactly cooperative. The long and short of it is that Busch was escorted to the PIR Sheriff's substation for a breath test after refusing a field sobriety test. That machine 'malfunctioned,' and Busch was cited instead for reckless driving and released, with a return court date in Tolleson AZ on 22 December 2005.
When asked about it at the Edwards conference, Team Owner, Jack Roush, said "I've heard that rumour too. I haven't talked with Kurt today, and I haven't seen the ticket. I'm not looking to take any action, as that driver has been released. I won't say I've washed my hands of it, but I will stand aside and let someone else sort it out. It would be an issue for (sponsor) Crown Royal. NASCAR hasn't called me to the trailer."