Michigan Sweep for Edwards
Carl Edwards had to fight off a cluster of late-race cautions and hold off restart-specialist Kyle Busch in the process before running off with his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season, capturing the 3M Performance 400 presented by Bondo today at Michigan International Speedway.
Edwards finished almost one second in front of Kyle Busch, the Sprint Cup Series points leader, who didn’t give up much ground with just three races remaining before the 10-race Chase for the Championship begins. It was also only the second weekend for a NASCAR sweep at MIS with Edwards, who turned 29 on Friday, winning the Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 on Saturday. The only other Sprint Cup driver to win both weekend races at MIS was Mark Martin in 1993.
“Bob Osborne (crew chief) and all the guys in the pit crew did a great job and the greatest part of today’s win was that we didn’t give up any more bonus points to Kyle,” Edwards said. “We’ve got to try to go out and win the next three events and enter the chase on even ground.”
Busch, who became the first driver to lock up a position in the 12-driver Chase field today, has accumulated 80 bonus points, 10 points each for his eight victories this season. He leads second-place Edwards by 222 points in the overall standings.
On the restarts, Edwards recalled what happened at Chicagoland last month when Kyle Busch got on Jimmie Johnson’s bumper on a green-white-checkered restart, and then got around Johnson for the victory.
“At Chicago, when we had our trouble, it came down to Kyle and Jimmie and Jimmie lost it on the restart,” Edwards added. “Kyle is really good on the restarts and I didn’t want to have to go through that pain today.”
Asked what he had for Edwards, Busch, very candidly, said, “Pretty much nothing. He was just able to take off on those restarts and get a pretty good run through one and two and once he got that gap it was just over. We’ll take it. At least we know we can keep up with the 99 (Edwards).”
It was also the 11th Sprint Cup victory at MIS for Roush Fenway Racing team owner Jack Roush, tying the record also held by the Wood Brothers. Roush Fenway grabbed four of the top five finishing places with David Ragan tying his career-high with a third-place finish, followed by teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth. It was also Roush’s 20th overall victory at Michigan including 11 in Sprint Cup, five in the Nationwide Series and four in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Add to that the fact that Roush has kept his winning streak alive at MIS with at least one Sprint Cup win there every year since 2002.
Today’s race also created a major shakeup in the point standings. Jeff Gordon fell considerably after finishing 42nd when he got into an early race-bumping incident with Johnson and Tony Stewart. Gordon was sixth going into the race, but dropped to ninth in the points. Biffle and Kevin Harvick each moved up three places, Biffle from 10th to 7th and Harvick from 11th to 8th. Also falling back three places were Kasey Kahne from 8th to 11th and Denny Hamlin from 9th to 12th. Ragan and Clint Bowyer remained on the bubble, both tied for 13th just 26 points out of the 12th and last position for the Chase field.