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Carl Edwards wins race at rain-marred Bristol

Posted: March 16, 2014 - 11:46pm
Andre Teague Associated Press  Carl Edwards takes a victory lap with the checkered flag after winning at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday.  AP
AP
Andre Teague Associated Press Carl Edwards takes a victory lap with the checkered flag after winning at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday.

BRISTOL, TENN. | Carl Edwards claimed a rain-soaked win at Bristol Motor Speedway, where weather wreaked havoc on yet another Sprint Cup race.

The rain caused two delays lasting more than five hours — one that delayed the start Sunday by almost two hours, and another that stopped the race for 3 hours, 18 minutes. But when the drivers got on the track, they raced fast and furious.

Much like the season-opening Daytona 500, which was stopped by rain for almost six hours, the threat of more bad weather bringing a sudden halt to the race forced the drivers to go hard every single lap.

So when a caution with 77 laps remaining sent most of the field to pit road, Edwards’ crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, made the call to leave his driver on the track. The move gave Edwards the lead on the restart with 70 laps remaining.

He had no trouble pulling out to an easy lead and had victory in sight when the yellow caution lights came on with two laps remaining.

No one was sure what the caution was for and Fennig even wondered if water damage might have inadvertently caused the lights to turn on.

Then the sky suddenly opened, and NASCAR had no choice but to declare the race over.

NASCAR said after the race that someone in the flag-stand accidentally leaned on a switch to trigger the lights. NASCAR was forced to issue a full caution “because operation of the lights was comprised.”

“No harm, no foul, let’s act like it just didn’t happen,” Edwards told NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton.

Edwards led Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. across the finish line.

Aric Almirola from Richard Petty Motorsports was third as Ford drivers swept the top three spots.

It was Edwards’ 22nd career victory, third at Bristol, but first of the season — and the one that should clinch him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship under NASCAR’s new qualifying format.

“We’re in the Chase, and we’re going to go win this championship,” said Edwards, who celebrated with his traditional backflip off his car onto the slick track. “I wasn’t sure about the backflip.”