Carl Edwards booked his place in the 2007 Nextel Cup 'Chase for the Championship' with his second win of the season in Saturday's Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

On a balmy mid-summer night at the repaved and re-banked half-mile Bristol oval Edwards led 182 of the 500 tortuous tours including the final 129 laps to hold off polesitter and early race dominator Kasey Kahne.

From sixth on the starting grid Edwards came to the fore during the early laps of a race that saw just three caution periods during the first 250 laps but then six further yellow flags in the final 250 laps. However Kahne led 305 of the first 335 laps in the #9 Gillet-Evernham Motorsports Dodge and looked virtually unbeatable as Edwards fought over second place with, among others Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte.

With the drivers taking their time to get used to the new track surface and the new, Homestead style progressive banking that made the track a little more forgiving and much better in terms of side by side racing Kahne's early dominance belied an evening that saw more overtaking and side by side racing down the order than any Bristol race in many years.

Kahne jetted off at the start and build an early lead although by lap 30 he was mired in traffic, which allowed Edwards, front row starter Juan Montoya, Ryan Newman and David Ragan to create a five-car train at the head of the field. Edwards got the better of the traffic to take a brief lead although Kahne returned the favour when Edwards got trapped behind slower cars on lap 65.

For the rest of the first stint Kahne had to fend off the close attentions of Newman as a rare round of green flag pitstops approached but the yellow flags came out just before the leaders were due to pit on lap 125 when Johnny Sauter clouted the turn two wall just in front of the leaders, almost collecting an unsighted Kahne in the process.

Kahne's #9 pit crew kept his nose in front through the first round of stops although he now had to deal with a new group of rivals in the form of Labonte's superbly driven #43 Petty Enterprises Dodge and the #24 Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon. However Kahne rebutted concerted attacks from both drivers to maintain his lead and settled into a comfortable holding pattern with Gordon as the race reached the 200-lap mark.

The yellow flags were out again on lap 210 as Denny Hamlin's 53 race finishing streak came to a smoky end when the already replaced engine in his #11 Joe Gibbs Chevy went bang. From 43rd on the grid Hamlin has driven as high as sixth under green flag conditions before the problems arose.

Once again Kahne's crew proved themselves to be the fastest as the leaders descended on pit road for a second time with Gordon, Earnhardt Jr, Edwards and Kurt Busch seemingly unable to do anything about the fleeing #9 car.

Earnhardt Jr took second from Gordon on lap 235 shortly after the third caution period for AJ Allmendinger's spin with Aric Almirola and was able to stabilise, and occasionally close, the gap to Kahne. As another unseasonably long green flag run progressed both Earnhardt Jr, Edwards and Busch were able to reel Kahne in as the race passed the 300-lap mark and began a period of intense close quarters action that finally resulted in Edwards and Earnhardt Jr wrestling the lead from Kahne on lap 335.

Although Kahne would remain near the head of the pack, he would not lead another lap as the leaders worked through their only green flag pitstops of the night with 150 laps to go.

The caution flag did appear again just before the end of the pitstop cycle when Ragan went for the first of three spins as his Roush-Fenway Ford began jumping out of gear although the appearance of the safety car did little to alter the overall leaderboard other than to trap Gordon one lap down in 18th position.

Edwards took the lap 377 restart in the lead with Kahne behind him but now the tables had been turned and the #9 Dodge could do nothing about the #99 Ford ahead of him. In fact nobody would have an answer for Edwards from this point on for despite another four caution periods including one for a multi car crash involving Ricky Rudd, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and the #24 car of Gordon, Edwards was never headed.

The final restart of the day took place on lap 469 with Edwards making an impeccable getaway from Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Busch and Earnhardt Jr. After a brief tussle Edwards was clear of Kahne by lap 480 and cruised through the final 20 laps to take the chequered flag with more than a full second to spare.

Kahne was also unchallenged as he took second place, disappointed at not winning a race he dominated for so long but still pleased that his dreadful 2007 season now has at least one highlight to it.

Third place for Bowyer sees him edge towards a place in the Chase for the Championship while Tony Stewart's late surge to fourth place means that, along with Edwards, Gordon, Kenseth and Hamlin, he has mathematically secured his place in the Chase.

Earnhardt Jr passed Kurt Busch for fifth in the final laps to gain a small amount of ground on the driver of the #2 Penske Racing Dodge but NASCAR's most popular driver still lies more than 150 points behind Busch in the battle for the 12th and final Chase berth.

Busch's teammate Newman took seventh and is 14th in the championship less than 20 markers behind Earnhardt Jr with two more races to go before the Chase begins.

Eighth place was just reward for Bobby Labonte, who gave the #43 Dodge team one of their most competitive runs of the season, never out of the top ten all night while spring Bristol race winner Kyle Busch and Edwards' Roush-Fenway teammate Greg Biffle rounded out the top ten.

Front row starter Montoya dropped to 17th place at the end, losing out in a scrap with his current enemy Kevin Harvick for 16th place in the final 20 laps. Jeff Gordon came home 19th after sustaining damage when he and David Stremme clashed trying to avoid Rudd's spinning car while his teammate Jimmie Johnson fared even worse and was 21st, one lap down to the leaders after an anonymous night.

Unusually for Bristol there was a low rate of attrition with Hamlin, Sauter, Ragan and Kenseth the only official retirements and far fewer cars than normal coming home with bent fenders.