2011-05-26 / Sports

“Million Dollar” Carl Edwards

By Gerald Hodges

Carl Edwards Carl Edwards CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carl Edwards easily won Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race with a flawless run. While Edwards was beating Kyle Busch to the finish line, his other three Roush Fenway teammates finished in the top 8.

Edwards won three of the four-race segments of the 100-lap feature. On the last and final 10-lap segment, he got a huge jump on runnerup Kyle Busch, and cruised to the checkered flag.

Unlike most past races, that have been filled with crashes and wrecks as the drivers make a wild dash to the finish, this one was lacking excitement, as the 10-lap segment turned out to be free of wrecks and bumping.

“The key to winning this race are the guys behind me,” said Edwards. “One of them is Jody Fortson, who lost his father. I want to say hi to Sheila Fortson watching, but Bob Osborne and my guys, especially the guys on pit road. They could have dropped the ball. That was all the pressure in the world on those guys. They performed a flawless pit stop and we got out in front of Kyle (Busch). He is a bear on those restarts, so if we would have started behind him, I think it would have been really tough.”

When Edwards pulled into the infield grass after taking the checkered flag, the front of his car dug into the grass, and he messed up the front end.

“I feel so bad about tearing up the car, but Bob says he’s got a faster one for next week, so I’m pretty excited,” continued Edwards.

The win paid Edwards a flat $1 million.

Despite bringing home his career- best finish in six NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race appearances, Kyle Busch came up short.

“This was a good race for us with our M&M’s Camry,” said Busch. “We came up a little bit short, but we got beat by a faster car. The best I could’ve done was something on a restart and I didn’t get a great one there – that final one, but I still kept up with him (Carl Edwards) a little bit, but he was just too fast. He got away from me and spread the gap too far. By the time I was trying to run him back down on the top side there, it just took me too long to get back to him. A few more laps, maybe I would’ve got him, but all you had was 10 (laps).”

David Reutimann, Tony Stewart and Edwards’ teammate Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.

Matt Kenseth was sixth and David Ragan, who took the checkered flag earlier in the night with a dominating performance in the Sprint Cup Showdown, finished eighth in his first career Sprint All-Star Race.

Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman comprised the remainder of the top 10.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was voted into the race by fans as the third driver from the Sprint Show Down, but he had nothing for the winners.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing on May 29 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, the longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule

Stenhouse gets first Nationwide win

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. held off Sprint Cup regulars Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski to get his first career Nationwide victory in Sunday’s John Deere 250 at Iowa Speedway.

Stenhouse, driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford, passed teammate Carl Edwards for the lead with 15- laps remaining, and held on until the checkered flag was given.

“We’ve wrecked several cars here in the past, and coming into today’s race this wasn’t my favorite track, but it is now,” said Stenhouse.

Carl Edwards, winner of Saturday night’s Sprint Cup All-Star race, was second.

“We had a very fast car at the beginning,” said Edwards. “During the last pit stop we changed the tire air pressure, and that really messed it up and made the car loose.”

Brad Keselowski was third, followed by, Reed Sorenson, Elliott Sadler, Kenny Wallace, Michael Mc- Dowell, Justin Allgaier, James Buescher and Austin Dillon.

Top-10 leaders after 12 of 34: 1. Sadler-418, 2. Sorenson 411, 3. Stenhouse-410, 4. Allgaier-398, 5. Leffler-375, 6. Almirola-366, 7. K. Wallace- 355, 8. S. Wallace-315, 9. Scott-303, 10. Wise-289

“An angel on my shoulder,” said Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch credits an angel to helping him win the Charlotte truck race.

“ We didn’t have the fastest truck, and I got into early trouble,” said Busch. “I had an angel riding with me.”

“I’m going to say I had some help tonight. It’s weird how things work, but, man, when you believe in it and you trust it and you have faith in it, it’ll repay you.”

The angel Busch was referring to was Zahra Baker, a 10-year-old girl, whose remains were found in North Carolina, after she had been reported missing.

Busch had put her name and photo on his No. 18 truck prior to the race.

Busch crossed the finish line .317 seconds ahead of Clint Bowyer. The victory was his third straight in the series, his fourth in six starts this season and the 28th of his career, bringing his aggregate victories across NASCAR’s top three series to 97. That ties him with Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip for third all-time in total wins across all three national series.

Cole Whitt ran third and took over the series points lead. At 19, Whitt is the youngest driver ever to lead the series points and the first rookie.

James Buescher came home fourth, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr., Johnny Sauter, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Justin Marks and Brad Sweet.

Top-10 leaders after 7 of 24: 1. Whitt-260, 2. Sauter- 259, 3. Hornaday- 257, 4. Crafton-243, 5. Dillon-240, 6. Peters-225, 7. Buescher-202, 8. Rogers-195, 9. Kligerman- 195, 10. Papais-192.

Weekend racing: The Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams are at Charlotte. The trucks do not race again until June 4.

Sat., May 28, Nationwide Series Top Gear 300, race 13 of 34, starting time: 2:30 p.m.; TV: ABC.

Sun., May 29, Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600, race 13 of 36; starting time: 6 p.m., TV: FOX.

Racing trivia question: How many Truck titles has Ron Hornaday won?

Last week’s question: Jeff Burton drives the No. 31 Richard Childress Chevrolet. Who did he drive for before RCR? Answer. He drove for Roush Racing.

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

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