Edwards finally wins, in Nationwide
Since losing the Sprint Cup title last year to Tony Stewart by
the slimmest of margins, Carl Edwards has struggled.
It’s been 54 races since his last Cup victory – at Las Vegas in
March 2011 – and he’s fallen out of the top 10 in points this year,
in desperate need of a win to make the Chase for the
He can still wheel it in the Nationwide series, though, and
proved it Saturday. Edwards won his first start of the season in
the series, holding off nemesis Brad Keselowski on two late
restarts at Watkins Glen International.
”We got the trophy, and that is nice to win a race,” said
Edwards, who stuck his customary back flip off his car afterward.
”We really need to win a race in the Cup series. I think this will
help with that. It never hurts to get to Victory Lane.
”The back flip I was a little nervous about. I haven’t done one
of those for a while. I had to stop and think, OK, feet over the
head, look at the ground. I’ve been watching a lot of the Olympics,
but that doesn’t seem to help when you have to do it
While Edwards was smiling, Keselowski grimaced. Edwards missed a
shift as the two raced to the white flag and banged Keselowski’s
No. 22 Dodge into the wall.
”He came up the track and hit me, put me in the wall there,”
Keselowski said. ”That kind of took away all of my momentum. I
didn’t have a chance after that.”
Edwards qualified 18th for Sunday’s Cup race at Watkins Glen,
the Finger Lakes 355, and Keselowski will start fourth.
Maybe that’s a good thing considering their history.
”I didn’t pull any aggressive moves out of the arsenal,” said
Keselowski, who started fourth Saturday and led a race-high 44
laps. ”Whether it (the hit by Edwards) was intentional, obviously,
I don’t need to start any trouble over here in this series when I
have the Chase coming around. I kind of feel like I gave away a
little bit of a win. I’m banking on nice-guy points on that
AMBROSE’S DRIVE: A year ago, Marcos Ambrose outdueled Kyle Busch
and Brad Keselowski in a green-white-checkered finish at Watkins
Glen International for his first and only Sprint Cup victory.
Ambrose was fast in Friday’s rain-shortened practice and qualified
A victory on Sunday in the Finger Lakes 355 would vault Ambrose
and Richard Petty Motorsports into the wild-card picture for the
10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, though he’s somewhat
far back in points (18th but tied with Joey Logano) and likely
would need another win to have a chance to make the 12-car
Ambrose has one win and four top-fives at Watkins Glen for an
average finish of 2.3 and an average green flag speed of nearly 120
mph. Both are tops in the series, making Ambrose a driver to be
Though he’s desperate for a victory on an oval track, Ambrose
likes what RPM has done this season. Ambrose has won his first two
career poles this year and has five top-10s.
”We’re proud of winning the race here last year and we’re
pleased with how we’ve gone this year,” Ambrose said. ”We’re not
a super team, but we’re a really strong two-car team, probably one
of the strongest out there right now. We feel like we’ve had a good
year, but not a great year, and we need to finish off really
This will be the first race since Dodge announced Tuesday that
it was leaving NASCAR at season’s end. For Ambrose, who drives the
No. 9 Ford for RPM, it’s not good news.
”RPM is still looking at all their options as far as
manufacturers go,” said Ambrose, who won the pole on the road
course at Sonoma in June but finished sixth. ”I think for the
sport, Dodge pulling out was not a great thing. It’s been really
healthy to have four manufacturers in the sport, so as a fan of
NASCAR I’m disappointed that Dodge made that choice, but I
”For us, we’re building to the future at RPM and I look forward
to playing my part and helping them make good choices. I think it’s
exciting times for RPM. They’ve got a lot of options.”
NOT SO CLOSE ANYMORE: Tony Stewart won his third Sprint Cup
title last year with a huge amount of help from Hendrick
Stewart-Haas Racing still gets its engines and technical
assistance from Hendrick, but that relationship isn’t quite so
close since Stewart fired crew chief Darian Grubb after winning
five races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship last
Grubb, who worked at Hendrick for several years, has moved to
Joe Gibbs Racing and SHR no longer sits in on Tuesday meetings at
Hendrick every week.
”It’s not that we don’t need to go, it’s just that Darian had a
unique relationship with Hendrick,” Stewart said. ”The
information still is an open book back and forth, so we are still
sharing the same amount of information.”
Hendrick driver Jeff Gordon agreed.
”We definitely had a good relationship with Darian when he went
over there. It was kind of a mutually agreed-upon situation that
was a positive for everybody,” Gordon said. ”But it’s still an
open book, and when we need to reach out to them, they are great.
And when they need to reach out to us, we are just as open. But
they are not involved in our meetings as much as I actually would
like them to be.”
ROAD KINGS NO MORE: Once upon a time and not so long ago, you
could almost pencil in the names of either Jeff Gordon or Tony
Stewart to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup road races at Sonoma and
Not so anymore, even though the dynamic duo, the top two road
racers in NASCAR history, have combined to win nine races at The
Glen and seven at Infineon.
The times, they sure have changed. Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch,
and Juan Pablo Montoya have won three of the past four races at The
Glen, while Kurt and Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson,
Montoya, and Clint Bowyer in June have won the last six races at
”I actually think it’s pretty cool to see how many guys just
keep getting better every year,” said Kurt Busch, who easily
bested Gordon last year at Sonoma. ”I think it’s just a situation
where you have more and more guys getting better at it.”
Stewart has a record five wins at Watkins Glen International,
one more than Gordon, who hasn’t won here in a decade.
SPARK PLUGS: Aric Almirola’s No. 43 paint scheme for this week
was designed by life-long Petty fan Kevin Gates, a graphic designer
who just submitted a sketch on a whim and sponsor Smithfield
decided to use it. As part of its nationwide Feeding the Hungry
initiative, Smithfield also donated 30,000 pounds of food to a food
bank in Watkins Glen. … Jeff Gordon has led a series-high 243
laps at Watkins Glen, 17 more than Tony Stewart. … Roush Fenway’s
Matt Kenseth has a new deal to drive with somebody else next year
but still doesn’t know when it will be announced.