It was Phoenix all over again for Carl Edwards. Last lap, one more turn and one more car to pass in order to grab the win.
Unlike his near-win in Phoenix, Edwards made it work on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch after shoving the No. 18 driver out of the way, grabbing the win in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The win is the second in a row for Edwards and second of his career at Richmond.
“It is such a tough thing,” Edwards said of racing a teammate for the win. “I think the double-edged sword of having great teammates is sometimes you have to race like that. I had to try something. Big picture to me is we both have some wins, we’re in the Chase and it’s fun to have to race your teammate.”
Leading a race-high 151 laps, Edwards was using every lane Kyle Busch wasn’t as the laps ticked down.
“With about 20 to go, I was doing literally everything I could. That was everything Ive got and I could not catch Kyle. Then with one to go, I’m like ‘I’m just going to dive down here into Turn 1 really hard and hope that I can get down there and maybe something with happen.'”
Indeed, something did happen and for Busch, despite leading 78 laps, had to settle for second. Offering no comment on the contact from Edwards, Busch acknowledged the track conditions under the heat of the sun as opposed to under the lights.
“It stinks to come home second but the guys did an awesome job,” Busch said. “There was definitely some grooves, some abilities to maneuver around and some opportunities to make some passes. The track being as wide as it was, it lended it to a lot of clean hard racing. It’s what it was.”
Coming home third is Jimmie Johnson who led 44 laps throughout the slippery 400-lap afternoon in Richmond. IN his wake was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne who grabbed his first top-5 finish of the season in fourth.
“That was really encouraging,” Kahne said. “It was a strong weekend for our team. Similar to Bristol, we just finished it off today.”
Kicking off with the longest green-flag run to start a Richmond race since 1979, the event took a massive turn in the final 100 laps once cautions bred cautions. Four yellows waved in a 50-lap span from laps 314 to 364, putting drivers like Danica Patrick, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larosn and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. back on the lead lap.
One of which was from Tony Stewart who raced his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet for the first time of 2016 after a back injury set his on the sidelines for the opening eight races.
The 44-year-old spent most of the afternoon just shy of the top 20 before cutting a left-rear tire past the halfway point. Smoke managed to fight back to finish 19th.
With five drivers leading 50 or more laps, the race seemed to never have that one lead dog for an extended period of time. Polesitter Kevin Harvick led 63 before falling to fifth. Kurt Busch looked to have the race win in his hands before a slow pit stop brought him back to 10th at the line.
Completing the top 10 is Denny Hamlin in sixth, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano – who battled back from a lap down early to finish eighth – and Martin Truex, Jr.
Despite running top 20 for a majority of the day, David Ragan came home 23rd in his BK Racing Toyota, proving to be his best race since joining the organization in 2016.
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