Another painful championship loss in finale for Carl Edwards
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) Carl Edwards' latest championship loss may have been even more painful than his first.
Leading the NASCAR season finale with 10 laps to go and closing in on his first title, Edwards wrecked while blocking Joey Logano on a restart Sunday night.
Logano turned Edwards sideways and sent him back across traffic at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kasey Kahne slammed into Edwards' rear bumper, lifting the No. 19 Toyota off the ground. Edwards spun, hit the outside wall and came to a stop on the track. Edwards climbed out, stood on the banking – not too far from his wrecked car – and watched a replay on a big screen.
Edwards shook his head and muttered ''damn'' as he realized he essentially caused the melee.
''I couldn't go to bed tonight and think that I gave him that lane,'' Edwards said.
Jimmie Johnson ended up winning the race, tying a NASCAR record by claiming his seventh championship. Logano finished fourth, and Kyle Busch was sixth. Edwards, Johnson, Logano and Busch were the only championship contenders in the finale.
''It hurts,'' Logano said. ''We had a great shot at. … I don't blame him. He had to throw the block.''
Edwards brushed off a request to take an ambulance ride to the infield care center, instead making the trip on foot. He stopped by Logano's pit stall, climbed up on the box and chatted with crew chief Todd Gordon.
''Yeah, no apology,'' Edwards said. ''I just wanted to say, `Hey, that's just racing and good luck to you guys.' There's so much on the line. I don't want to be anything extra to mess with Joey.''
Edwards got checked out in the care center and then gave a pep talk to family and friends, high-fiving each of them. It was a show of sportsmanship rarely seen in defeat in NASCAR, especially with so much on the line. He was even more supportive of his team, including crew chief Dave Rogers.
''They put it in my hands,'' Edwards said. ''That's all you can ask for. … It didn't work out. This is life. We performed well. We did our best. I just risked too much and Dave told me before this race it's a pretty big reward and remember risk gets reward and I just had to push it.''
Edwards led 47 laps before finishing 34th in the race and fourth in the final standings.
But his season will be remembered for another oh-so-close ending.
Five years ago, Edwards and Tony Stewart had a head-to-head showdown at Homestead for the title. Edwards, then driving for Jack Roush, started the finale with a three-point lead in the standings and did everything he could from the minute he arrived in Florida. His Roush Fenway Racing team put his Ford on the pole, he led a race-high 119 of the 267 laps and still finished second to Stewart.
Stewart and Edwards finished tied in the final Sprint Cup Series points standings – a first in NASCAR history – and Stewart took the tiebreaker based on his five victories to Edwards' one.
Edwards started watching a replay of that 2011 race earlier this week, but ended up turning it off in disgust.
He surely won't want to watch this one, which left him still without a championship in 12 full seasons at the Cup level. And as much as the restart ended Edwards' night, a late caution caused by little-known driver Dylan Lupton caused as much frustration.
''I just hated to see that caution,'' Edwards said. ''That was very, very frustrating. I felt like that was our race and our championship, but hey this is how racing goes.''
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