2009-09-03 / Sports

Edwards Wins Nationwide Series Race

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Carl Edwards Carl Edwards Marcos Ambrose led 60 laps and only made one mistake in 74 laps, but that single miscue allowed Carl Edwards to make a pass on him on the last turn of the last lap to win Sunday's Nationwide Series race in Montreal, Canada.

"I made one mistake and it cost me the race," said Ambrose, who finished second.

Ambrose was leading the race with Edwards right behind him as they entered turn 14, the last turn before the checkered flag. Ambrose did not brake hard enough, and his No. 47 Toyota slipped sideways just enough to allow Edwards to get by. Ambrose regained control but was not able to overtake Edwards.

Edwards did his traditional winning backflip, and said, "We just went international. Marcos Ambrose is probably the best road course driver there is. He's helped me a lot. It makes it special being able to pass him."

"I thought it was over. Once we came off the last hairpin corner, I drove it as hard as I could. He had a little bit of trouble with a wheel-spin, and I had a little run, but I couldn't out brake him. He just let off the brakes a little early and hopped the curb too hard and slipped on that last turn."

The win was the first road course victory for Edwards.

NASCAR stopped the race with 16-laps to go and made teams switch to rain tires. When racing resumed, there were several multi-car accidents. Only 24 of the 43 starting cars were running at the end of the race.

"It was a crazy race," continued Edwards. "First, it was dry, and then it was wet. At one point I was just trying to survive."

Andrew Ranger finished third followed by, Jacques Villeneuve, Brad Keselowski, Tony Raines, Jean-Francois Dumoulin, Stephen Leicht, Brendan Gaughan, and Kyle Busch.

Top-10 points leaders after 25 of 35; 1. Kyle Busch-4034, 2. Edwards 3842, 3. Keselowski-3752, 4. Leffler-3429, 5. S. Wallace-2900, 6. Allgaier-2898, 7. Keller-2821, 8. Gaughan-2787, 9. Bliss-2774, 10. McDowell-2738

Hornaday continues to lead trucks

Top-10 Truck Series leaders after 16 of 25: 1. Hornaday-2593, 2. Crafton-2373, 3. Skinner-2277, 4. Bodine-2169, 5. Scott-2134, 6. Starr-2110, 7. Braun-2096, 8. Setzer 2065, 9. Crawford-2051, 10. Cook-2015

Everham and Crocker tie the knot

Ray Evernham married his former driver, Erin Crocker, in Las Vegas last week.

Evernham is 52, Crocker is 28.

Evernham won three Cup championships (1995, '97, '98) while serving as crew chief for driver Jeff Gordon at Hendrick Motorsports. He left Hendrick prior to the 2001 season to become a team owner, working with Dodge officials when the automaker made its return to NASCAR's Cup series.

Crocker began her NASCAR career as a development driver for Evernham. She made 10 starts in what is now the Nationwide Series and 29 in the Camping World Truck Series between 2005 and 2008.

Evernham eventually gained a divorce from his wife, and now works for ESPN, after selling the majority of his interest in the team to George Gillett Jr. in 2007.

Evernham's infatuation with Crocker caused lots of talk in the NASCAR garage, and even led one of his drivers, Jeremy Mayfield, to say, "We hardly ever see our boss. He spends more time around his girlfriend's team than he does ours."

A race within a race

With just two regular season races left before the start of this season's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship much of the focus is on the battle for position.

It's a race within a race.

That's the race for the top seed in the Chase, a spot currently held by Mark Martin.

Martin, with four wins, would have 40 bonus points going into the Chase's first race at New Hampshire.

Once the Chase field is set, each of the top 12 drivers' points will be reset to 5,000. Then, 10 bonus points will be added for each win during the first 26 races to create the "seeding."

The battle for the top seed seems like a three-driver contest: Martin, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.

Martin, currently 10th in the points standings, has the more pressing matter of staying in the top 12.

But both Stewart and Johnson have three wins for 30 bonus points apiece, and the luxury of already having clinched a Chase spot.

That means the pressure is off - and winning is literally the only goal over the next two races.

"If the chance presents itself, we'll take a risk if it means winning," Johnson said. "We did at Michigan. We're going for the win. We'll try to do the opposite of other teams' strategy if that opportunity is there to go for a win."

But, statistically, Stewart owns the advantage. At Atlanta and Richmond, Stewart has a combined five wins, a series-high driver rating of 102.4 and a second best average running position of 10.1.

Top-15 Sprint Cup Chase contenders with two to go: 1. Stewart 3564, 2. Johnson-3344, 3. J. Gordon-3310, 4. Hamlin-3141, 5. Edwards-3110, 6. Kurt Busch- 3103, 7, Newman-2995, 8. Biffle- 2986, 9. Montoya-2975, 10. Martin- 2971, 11. Kahne-2963, 12. Kenseth- 2945, 13. Kyle Busch-2911, 14. Vickers 2906, 15. Bowyer-2833

Weekend racing: The Camping World Trucks are at Newton, Iowa, while the Cup and Nationwide teams will be night racing at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Sat., Sept. 5, Nationwide Series Atlanta 300, race 26 of 35, starting time: 6:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN2.

Sat., Sept. 5, Camping World Series Iowa 200, race 17 of 25, starting time: 9:30 p.m.

(EDT); TV: Speed Channel.

Sun., Sept. 6, Sprint Cup Pep Boys Auto 500, race 25 of 36, starting time: 7 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: What is the name of the camp operated by Kyle Petty and his wife for kids with healthcare needs?

Last week's question: How many NASCAR Truck championships has Ron Hornaday won? Answer. He has three, 1996, '98, and 2007.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@earthlink.net

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