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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
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/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 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/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 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Gregory Shamus/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 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by 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 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by 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 22, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in ninth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, August 22, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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