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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. ┬ęBob 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
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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