NASCAR Rain shortens race; Edwards grabs spot
Nov. 7, 2016 at 7:08 a.m.
Updated Nov. 7, 2016 at 7:08 a.m.
FORT WORTH (AP) — Carl Edwards got the victory he desperately needed to earn a championship-contending spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale, winning at Texas on Sunday night in a race shorted by 41 laps because of rain after the start was delayed nearly six hours.
With his fourth career win at Texas, Edwards joined Jimmie Johnson as drivers locked into the championship-contending spots in Homestead.
That leaves two spots up for grabs next Sunday at Phoenix.
Edwards entered the second-to-last race before the Nov. 22 season finale eighth in points among the drivers still eligible for the championship.
“This is huge. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. That’s all we said was needed, just a shot,” Edwards said. “Now we’re going to go to Homestead, we’re going to do what we need to do. This was a great test. We came here and did what we needed to do, we performed, and I really believe we can do that at Homestead.”
Edwards’ three Joe Gibbs Racing teammates are among the six other drivers still in contention, and clearly not all of them can advance.
Light rain had already been falling, and plenty more was on the radar around the track, when the caution came out with 45 laps remaining of the originally scheduled 334-lap race.
All the cars were brought to pit road four laps later, and it was only a few more minutes before NASCAR declared the race over and official after 293 laps. It could have taken two hours or more to dry to track.
The rain-shortened victory was certainly appropriate for Edwards after how his championship Chase ended last year.
Last year’s race at Phoenix was delayed nearly seven hours as a series of storms passed through the area, and then once it started under the lights was called after 218 laps. Edwards finished fifth, leaving him five points out of the final spot for the Chase finale.
It was Edwards’ fourth win at Texas, but his first there in eight years. He swept the two Cup races there in 2008, the season he had nine wins overall and a career-best finish of second in points.
Edwards took the lead on lap 258 late Sunday after beating Martin Truex Jr. off pit road.
Joey Logano, another Chase contender, finished second while leading a race-high 178 laps. Truex finished third and Chase Elliott fourth.
Logano is third in season points, with Kyle Busch fourth. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch are in the fifth through eighth spots.