15 October 2011
Nationwide: Edwards' near miss ends in win
Carl Edwards survived a hefty early hit with the wall to claim victory in the Nationwide race at Charlotte on Friday night - with a little help from a friend.
Carl Edwards hit the wall hard early during the 200-lap "Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage" Nationwide Series race, but survived the scare and a late surge from Kyle Busch to challenge for the lead in order to claim the chequered flag at Charlotte.
"Man, this is huge," said Edwards. "I hit the wall really hard and messed the right side of the car up."
Edwards needed a push at the last restart from his Roush Fenway team mate Trevor Bayne to beat Busch. "What got us the lead: Trevor pushed, and that meant a lot," said Edwards. "Man, this is huge ... There at the end, I thought Kyle was going to get me. He has the ability to turn it on there at the end. But he raced me really clean, and I appreciate that."
The win is Edwards' 37th victory in 241 Nationwide Series starts and is his eighth in 2011 alone, making this the most victories he's achieved in a single season in Nationwide.
Earlier on Friday, Paul Menard had clinched pole position for the Friday evening race with a laptime of 29.079s on the 1.5-mile quad-oval. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Rickey Stenhouse Jr., who recorded a time 0.039s off pole. The next four positions were all Cup regulars (Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.) Former NASCAR regular Sam Hornish Jr. qualified in seventh alongside Brian Scott.
Menard led the race for the first 26 laps until the first caution for Joe Nemechek's blown engine. Stenhouse took over at the front with a helpful push from Elliott Sadler and maintained it until the next caution when Reed Sorenson had problems and stopped on track, but Stenhouse got a poor restart and gave away the lead to Brad Keselowski who promptly started to pull out a big lead.
After a short debris caution, the restart on lap 74 saw Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Steve Wallace lead the field back to green. With the exception of a short hiatus around the fourth caution on lap 127 when Ryan Truex hit the wall in turn 2, Keselowski would stay in control through to lap 170 and was looking on course for a cruise into victory lane, but then he spun out of the lead on a cut tyre and brought out a fifth caution.
Keselowski was down to 13th place at the restart after leading 199 of the race's 200 laps. Now the race was headed up by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards - but the green flags only lasted four laps before Kasey Kahne hit the wall in turn 4 on lap 180 and brought out a new caution for debris that had dropped off the damaged car.
Kyle Busch led at the next restart. That was equally shortlived before Busch's team mate Joey Logano got loose in turn 4 while running side-by-side with Trevor Bayne and ended up brushing the wall, brining out the seventh and final caution of the evening's proceedings. There were just five laps remaining of the race by the time Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne, Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led the field to the green flag once more.
With a push-assist from Bayne, Edwards managed to get a better restart when the track went green and proceeded to drive away from Kyle Busch for the win. Considering he'd been anonymous for much of the night after slapping the wall hard in turn 4 on lap 32 and needing a lot of corrective action in pit road, Edwards was amazed to be picking his way to victory lane when the race was done.
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