Carl Edwards advanced to the NASCAR Chase championship round by winning a rain-delayed and rain-shortened Texas AAA 500 Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
Edwards, who was in eighth-place in the eight-driver Chase standings entering the race, joins Jimmie Johnson as two of the final four participants in the final round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Chase semifinals finish this week at Phoenix International Raceway. Second-place finisher Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, who was fifth, are the next two drivers on points after winners Johnson and Edwards.
Non-Chase drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott finished third and fourth.
Sunday’s race was delayed by about six hours after an early afternoon rain shower, and it took that long for the track to dry. After the rain started back up late in the race, NASCAR ended it on Lap 293 of 334.
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Edwards beat then-leader Truex out of the pits during a caution on Lap 258. Edwards maintained his lead the rest of the way, although the race was called due to rain with 41 laps remaining.
How the NASCAR Chase drivers fared:
1. Jimmie Johnson (4,074 points)*: Ran a conservative race because he could. Finished 11th.
T1. Joey Logano (4,074): Finished second and might have had something for Edwards had the race gone longer.
T1. Kyle Busch (4,074): Had to race in a backup car (after wrecking in practice Friday), then had a hole punched in front bumper by a piece of brake duct on the track. Still was able to finish fifth.
4. Matt Kenseth (one point behind): Dropped a spot to fourth after a seventh-place finish. Has only a one-point cushion.
5. Denny Hamlin (one point out of fourth): Finished ninth and dropped out of the top four. He’s now on the bubble to advance.
6. Kevin Harvick (17 points out of fourth): Finished sixth and had some drama when he bumped pole-winner Austin Dillon out of the way and out of the race. Will likely need to win at Phoenix – his favorite track – to advance.
7. Carl Edwards (24 points out of fourth)*: He was in eighth-place entering the race, but his victory sends him into the championship round.
8. Kurt Busch (33 points out of fourth): Held for pitting twice after getting free pass back onto lead lap after a caution. That sent him to a 20th-place finish.
*clinched spot in championship round
▪ That it took more than six hours to dry the track only underscores the need for a repave at Texas. Track president Eddie Gossage said Saturday a repave is coming, he just didn’t know when. After it also failed to dry in time to get an IndyCar race started earlier this year (the race was postponed for several weeks), it appears a repave is needed, and soon. That probably won’t be popular with drivers, who like to race on an older surface that produces better opportunities to pass and maneuver.
▪ Trevor Bayne got away with an extremely questionable move during the race’s first caution, when he backed up along a busy pit road after he missed his stall.
▪ Pole-sitter Austin Dillon had a top-five car until he was bumped from behind by Kevin Harvick and into the wall on Lap 262. Dillon finished 37th. “I guess he didn’t like it the silver-spoon kid was outrunning him,” Dillon said, in reference to a comment Harvick once made about Dillon being the grandson of team owner Richard Childress.
▪ Matt DiBenedetto missed the race after sustaining a concussion in a crash during Saturday’s Xfinity race. Jeffrey Earnhardt replaced DiBenedetto in BK Racing’s No. 83 Toyota and finished 34th.
They said it
“We’ve got a shot at the championship going to Homestead. This is going to be great.” – Edwards.
Three tweets from Sunday’s race:
Where: Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.
When: 2:30 p.m., Sunday.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.