Carl Edwards wins from the pole at Bristol; Dale Earnhardt Jr. rallies for second
BRISTOL, Tenn. – The backflip was back Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Carl Edwards won from the pole position, scoring his first victory of the season in the Food City 500. With his fourth victory at Bristol and the 26th of his Sprint Cup career, Edwards virtually qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs.
“Now we’re in the Chase,” Edwards told Fox with a big smile after performing his trademark winning backflip with his first win at the 0.533-mile oval since 2014. “We can go have some fun. It’s so cool, man. Awesome to be here.”
Edwards became the third Joe Gibbs Racing driver to win in 2016, holding onto first through a slew of late cautions.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who lost two laps after losing power and needing to pit on the first lap of 500, finished second, his second consecutive runner-up finish. Kurt Busch was third, followed by Chase Elliott and Trevor Bayne.
HOW EDWARDS WON:He started from the pole and let the race come to him. After leading the first 36 laps, he yielded the point and lurked while several other contenders had problems. He reassumed command after Lap 200 and dictated the pace the rest of the way. Edwards led the final 104 laps among a race-high 276 of 500.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE:After leading 12 laps at Texas last week -- his first in two years -- Bayne earned the second top five of his career and his first since the 2011 Daytona 500 win. ... Elliott (fourth) ran as high as second and hung on for his second consecutive top five. ...Stewart-Haas Racing scored top 10s with Kevin Harvick (seventh) and Busch, and Ty Dillon also ran well before a late incident. … Matt DiBenedetto’s BK Racing Toyota snuck into the top 10 with a sixth … Roush Fenway Racing put all three of its cars in the top 20 despite early problems for Bayne, Greg Biffle (12th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (16th) ... Clint Bowyer (eighth) easily scored his best finish of 2016. He had one top 20 (18th at Fontana) in his first seven starts with HScott Motorsports ... Ryan Newman (ninth) has two top 10s in the past three races.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: The rest of Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards’ teammates Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth all had right-front tire problems that caused caution flags. Busch, who was aiming for his third consecutive victory, and Kenseth each hit the wall twice with blown right fronts … Former Bristol winner Brad Keselowski was burned by a pit speeding penalty (his third of the season) that helped negate a shot at a strong result … Kyle Larson finished outside the top 30 because of a broken track bar after running well early … Jimmie Johnson was one of several drivers who had trouble with loose wheels.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I was encouraged again today even though we don’t have the result. I have a smile on my face and we’ll go to Richmond and try again.” – Kenseth to Fox Sports on another disappointing result with a strong car.
WHAT’S NEXT: Sunday, April 24 (1 p.m. ET), Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.