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Edwards wins Atlanta thriller.

Carl Edwards took a spectacular debut Nextel Cup victory in Sunday's Golden Corral 500, passing Jimmie Johnson around the outside of the final turn on the last lap to steal a dramatic win.

Less than half a season after making his Nextel Cup debut for Jack Roush's #99 team, Edwards introduced his customary victory back-flip to an appreciative Atlanta Motor Speedway crowd after a race that started, and finished with a bang.

In a race dominated by a major opening lap crash and stunning performances by Johnson and Edwards' Roush Racing teammate Greg Biffle, Edwards' daring last lap pass on Johnson came as a surprise even though the charismatic youngster also broke his Busch Series victory duck on Saturday.

After avoiding the opening lap melee, which eliminated or damaged more than a dozen cars, Johnson and Biffle led 308 of the 325 laps between them, trading places on numerous occasions and easily outclassing the rest of the field.

It was only a lightning quick final pit stop 30 laps from home that moved Edwards from a top five contender into the lead, and even though that lead lasted less than a lap once the green flag waved on lap 299, the driver of the #99 Scott's sponsored Ford was able to keep in the wheel tracks of Johnson's #48 Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet.

Biffle, who prior to the ninth and final caution period of the day had opened the most significant lead of the day, was never able to rally from a slow-ish final stop and despite a concerted effort could only watch the last lap unfold from about ten car lengths back.

After Edwards appeared to have used the best of his tyres with five laps remaining, few expected the St Louis based youngster to have an answer for Johnson, who led a total of 156 laps.

However after getting a good run off turn four on the penultimate lap, Edwards swung high in turn one as Johnson hugged the low line using his extra momentum to tuck right in behind the #48 Chevrolet as they charged down the back straight for the last time. Into turn three and again Johnson went low as Edwards went high. Again Edwards had the better momentum and this time it was enough to bring him alongside Johnson as they exited the turn, the #99 eventually nosing ahead at the line by just two hundredths of a second.

After leading just nine laps all day, the guts and commitment shown by the former Craftsman Truck Series ace on the final lap made his victory an extremely popular one with the Atlanta crowd who, like many others, are quickly warming to Jack Roush's newest star.



Related Pictures

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Carl Edwards took a third place in only his 10th Nextel Cup race (Photo Autostock/Ford Motor Co)
Jimmie Johnson,in his Lowes Chevrolet, wins the NASCAR Nextel Cup UAW Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas,NV-3/13/05. ©Bob LeSieur
02/17/05 Daytona. Greg Biffle and Roush Racing team mate Carl Edwards pass either side of Randy LaJoie during the Gatorade Duel 150`s. Biffle finished 13th with Edwards 15th. Photo Credit: Autostock
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Tony Stewart at Dover International Speedway on May 30 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
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Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

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