2010-11-18 / Sports

Edwards Sweeps Phoenix Races

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Carl Edwards Carl Edwards PHOENIX. Ariz. – Carl Edwards won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races this past weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, but the big news is how close the battle for this year’s Cup championship is.

Edwards was able to conserve fuel, while others, including the Chase leader, Denny Hamlin, who led the most laps, had to pit for fuel near the end of the 312-lap race.

“I don’t feel like this really happened,” said Edwards.

Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, and Greg Biffle followed Edwards across the finish line.

Jimmie Johnson did not lead a lap, but he was able to conserve fuel and finished fifth.

“I did anything I could do to stay out of the throttle,” said Johnson. “We ran well, had phenomenal pit stops, and stayed out of trouble.”

“We were able to work the magic there at the end and save fuel, and now, we’re going to have one heck of a points race going to Homestead.”

Kevin Harvick was down a lap at one point after his team left a lugnut off a wheel and he had to pit a second time, but he was able to finish sixth. He is 31 points back of Johnson, and 46 points behind Hamlin.

“We’re lucky to be honest with you, we just made a mistake,” said Harvick. “I was pretty down when that happened. I talked with Richard (Childress), and he told me you never know what’s going to happen.

“The further we went the better the car got. We’re going to Homestead next week, and we’ll have a fast car. We’ll take our chances there.”

Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Jeff Gordon finished 11th. Hamlin limped home 12th, after having to stop for a splash of fuel with 12 lapsto go.

“It’s pretty disappointing,” said Hamlin. “We were in a good position. We’ve had good cars and all that, but things didn’t work out strategy wise. We did what we had to do today, but we didn’t have it there at the end.”

Top-12 Chase leaders after 35 of 36: 1. Hamlin-6462, 2. Johnson-6447, 3. Harvick- 6416, 4. Edwards-6198, 5. Kenseth-6151, 6. J. Gordon- 6124, 7. Kyle Busch-6115, 8. Biffle 6113, 9. Stewart-6074, 10. Kurt Busch-6033, 11. Bowyer- 6028, 12. Burton-5958

Edwards takes Phoenix Nationwide race

Carl Edwards won Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Phoenix in a cakewalk over runner-up Kevin Harvick.

The victory was Edwards’ fourth at Phoenix and his second straight in the series.

“This is the best car I’ve ever had in the Nationwide Series,” Edwards radioed to crew chief Mike Beam after the race.

Edwards sat out the second Nationwide practice session to concentrate on his qualifying effort in the Cup car. The lack of practice, however, made no difference in Saturday’s race.

“That was (owner) Jack Roush’s call,” Edwards continued. “I thought about it, but I thought, ‘Man, I don’t have the guts to sit out a whole practice,’ and Mike Beam said, ‘Hey, the car’s good,’ and Jack said it was good, so it let me go focus on our (Cup car) and get the pole there.”

“I wouldn’t have imagined this thing would be that fast today. A great day for us. Man, it’s just unbelievable how fast this thing is. After three or four laps, I could do whatever I wanted with it. I’m really blessed to have the crew that I have.”

Joey Logano finished third, followed by 2010 series champion Brad Keselowski and Reed Sorenson. Aric Almirola, Colin Braun, Justin Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Steve Wallace completed the top 10.

Kyle Busch cut a tire during the final 56-lap green-flag run and finished 16th in the No. 18 Toyota. That shrank Joe Gibbs Racing’s lead in the owners’ standings to 41 points over the No. 22 Dodge owned by Roger Penske and driven by Keselowski.

Danica Patrick finished 32nd, seven laps down, in her 12th Nationwide start.

Top-10 leaders after 34 of 35: 1. Keselowski-5474, 2. Edwards 5044, 3. Kyle Busch- 4739, 4. Allgaier-4544, 5. Menard-4329, 6. Harvick- 4214, 7. Logano-3887, 8. Bayne-3886, 9. S. Wallace- 3822, 10. Leffler-3807

Bowyer wins truck race, Bodine claims title

Clint Bowyer won Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway in his first start in the series since Oct. 20, 2007, at Martinsville.

Todd Bodine also had reason to celebrate. With a 12th-place finish at Phoenix, Bodine wrapped up his second truck series championship. He leads Aric Almirola by an insurmountable 202 points entering next Friday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Bowyer beat race runnerup Kyle Busch to the line by 1.039 seconds. Johnny Sauter finished third, followed by Matt Crafton and Almirola.

Bodine added the 2010 crown to his 2006 truck series title.

“Along the way, we had a lot of good luck,” Bodine said. “Along with good performance, along with hard work, you’ve got to have good luck, and we had it this year. We did that. But the old adage is ‘You make your own luck,’ and this team has done a great job all year of doing that.”

Top-10 leaders after 24 of 25: 1. Bodine-3772, 2. Almirola 3570, 3. Sauter-3506, 4. Crafton-3397, 5. Dillon-3304, 6. Peters-3231, 7. Hornaday- 3135, 8. Skinner-3114, 9. Starr-3040, 10. White-2880

GM headed back to Indy-racing

General Motors Co. and its motorsports entity – GM Racing – has committed to fielding a Chevrolet-branded Twin-Turbo V6 racing engine to compete against Honda in the IndyCar Series beginning with the 2012 season.

Chip Ganassi, after an intense flirtation with Ford where he considered joining their NASCAR program, is instead committing to a relationship with GM Racing and Chevrolet in NASCAR starting in 2011 and in Indy- Car beginning in 2012.

Ganassi had apparently been leaning toward going with Ford over the last several weeks, but once Ganassi learned that GM was going “all-in” for a new Indy- Car racing engine program, he changed his mind.

Penske Racing will also be one of the teams to commit to using Chevrolet engines for 2012. It was Penske who gave Chevrolet their last Indy 500 win in 2002 using an Ilmor- built engine. Chevrolet and Honda will compete for teams in 2011 and then race each other on track in 2012

Weekend racing: It’s on to the 1.5-mile Homestead, Fla., track for all three of NASCAR’s major series. It is also the last race of the 2010 season.

Friday, November 19, Camping World Trucks Ford 200; starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: Speed.

Saturday, November 20, Nationwide Ford 300; starting time: 4 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, November 21, Sprint Cup Ford 400; starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: Which Cup team does Kevin Harvick drive for?

Last week’s question: Where is the first Sprint Cup race of the season held? Answer. Daytona International Speedway.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodges@race500.com.

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