Edwards rallies for Nationwide victory
Carl Edwards thought his race might be over after he smashed into the wall less than 50 miles into the 300-mile Nationwide race. Turns out his Mustang had plenty left.
Edwards worked his way up from 27th to the front five laps from the end, moving past Kyle Busch on the final restart to win the Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
''Running into the wall usually doesn't work out too well for you,'' said Edwards, the Sprint Cup series points leader.
But after a couple of laps seeing if pieces would fall off of his Ford, Edwards found he still had a fast machine capable of making a move.
''That was pretty impressive,'' he said. ''It was screaming fast.''
The right side of Edwards' car was badly damaged after he hit the wall 32 laps into the race. Crew chief Mike Beam talked Edwards through it, telling him the car was strong enough to get him back in.
''And luckily, Carl drove his guts out,'' Beam said.
Especially at the end as he took the lead from Busch with a push from Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.
Edwards had enough momentum to stick in front as Busch made one last charge on the final lap. It was Edwards' eighth Nationwide win this season and 37th in his career, tying him for third all time with Kevin Harvick.
Only Busch with 51 victories and Mark Martin with 49 have more.
Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush was as giddy about his car as he was about Edwards' effort.
''Carl wrecked his car today and the car decided it wouldn't give up,'' Roush said. ''It stood up under Carl and carried him to victory.''
It was Edwards' sixth straight top-two finish in NASCAR's second-tier series. Edwards will try to make it a clean sweep at Charlotte — and extend his one-point lead in the Chase for the championship standings — when he starts third in Saturday night's Bank of America 500.
''Way to fight back, guys,'' Edwards said after crossing the finish line.
Busch ended second and Bayne third. Elliott Sadler placed fourth to earn a $100,000 bonus in the series Dash 4 Cash.
Brad Keselowski had the dominant machine most of the race. He led 119 laps and strongly moved away from the pack on several midrace restarts. But Keselowski sliced a tire 28 laps from the finish and could not maintain position, slowly spinning just before the entrance to pit road.
Keselowski came out 13th and worked his way up to sixth, a spot behind Brian Scott.
Nationwide points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was ninth and maintained a 15-point lead over Sadler in the series standings with three races left.
After Keselowski faltered, it looked to be Busch's race to win when he moved past Sadler on a restart after Keselowski's caution.
Busch was in front again on a restart with 12 laps left after a caution for debris on the track. The caution flag came on for a seventh and final time with five laps left, and that's when Edwards struck.
Busch said he was strong on long runs and not so good on short ones. ''Didn't have enough under the hood to keep up,'' he said. ''Got outmotored on that last restart.''
Justin Allgaier was seventh, pole-sitter Paul Menard was eighth and Brian Vickers trailed Stenhouse to close out the top 10.
Kenny Wallace finished 16th in his 519th career Nationwide start, matching the series mark held by Jason Keller.
The race honored those who've dealt with breast cancer in their lives. Several drivers had a touch of pink in their uniforms or on their cars to raise awareness of the disease and raise funds for Susan G Komen for the Cure. Even the raceway's start-finish line was done in pink.
During race introductions, the drivers met 101-year-old Nancy Sue Neal from Waxhaw, N.C. The state's oldest living breast cancer survivor served as the honorary race director.