Carl Edwards scored a race win and the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup field was set with the running of the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
“That was my pit crew that won this race for us,” Edwards said. “It was just an awesome job by them.”
The win was Edwards’ second of the year, and it did come with some controversy, as Edwards took the lead for good on the final restart of the race following a caution with seven laps remaining in the 400-lap race, a restart that many thought Edwards jumped to get to the lead.
After pole sitter Jeff Gordon slid back through the field after starting from the pole, drivers including Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch were consistent front runners throughout the race until a yellow flag interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops with 57 laps to go.
Keselowski and several others who previously ran up front had already made pits stops and were caught a lap down when the caution came out. Those who hadn’t yet pitted made their stops under green and remained on the lead lap to restart the race up front. Edwards restarted with the lead and Busch was in second. Ryan Newman made his way toward the front, getting by Busch for second with 28 laps to go and then taking the lead from Edwards with 10 laps remaining.
Lead lap cars headed down pit rodad during the final caution a few laps later, and Paul Menard and Edwards got off pit road first and second by taking only two tires. Previous leader Newman restarted fifth.
Edwards retook the lead on the restart, and Busch moved up to second by the finish. Newman finished third, Jamie McMurray was fourth and Menard rounded out the top-five.
“Well, how about them apples? Unbelievable,” Busch said of making the Chase, courtesy of his runner-up finish. “The way this team has grown, what we’ve been able to accomplish, it’s an amazing feeling. We achieved something very special tonight.”
By making the Chase, Busch’s Furniture Row Racing team became the first-ever single-car team to make the championship post season.
The battle for the final Chase spots was a close one. In the end, Joey Logano beat out Jeff Gordon by a single point to grab the final spot in the top-10 of the points standings for his Chase entry. Meanwhile, Newman tied with Martin Truex Jr. in both wins and points to determine the final Chase entrant. Truex got the spot by tie-breaker.
“We did everything we needed to up until the last caution,” Newman said. “I’m not sure exactly what unfolded there. We still had the opportunity to win it on pit road and we didn’t.”
Truex’s entry into the Chase based on Saturday’s race results was just as controversial as Edwards’ final pass for the win. The final caution of the race came out as a result of a spin by Clint Bowyer. Following the race, it was a popularly held belief that Bowyer spun on purpose to bring out the caution in an attempt to help get Truex into the Chase. Another bone of contention was the appearance that Truex’s Michal Waltrip Racing teammates also slowed to let Logano by to gain positions late in the race, making sure that Logano was able to remain in the top-10, thus helping Truex secure the second Chase wild card spot.
In the end, right or wrong, here are the 12 drivers who made this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Martin Truex Jr.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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