Carl Edwards took full responsibility for the wreck that might have changed the course of NASCAR’s Chase on Sunday.
“That was 100 percent on me,” Edwards said on the radio of his mangled No. 19 Toyota, seconds after he wrecked with fellow championship-round driver Joey Logano on a restart with 10 laps remaining.
The wreck changed the complexion of the championship. Edwards was ahead of the three other final-four drivers – Logano, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson – at the time.
Johnson eventually claimed his record-tying seventh title, thanks in no small part to the Edwards-Logano wreck.
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With Logano right behind him, Edwards restarted on the inside of the front row alongside leader Kyle Larson. Logano tried to pass Edwards as the cars entered Turn 1. But Edwards, thinking he had room, tried to block Logano. Instead, Logano hit Edwards, causing a wreck that would also involve seven other drivers, including Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott.
The force of the impact to Truex was such that his No. 78 Toyota caught fire and was engulfed in flames. Truex quickly jumped out of the car unhurt.
While walking down pit road on his way to the infield care center, Edwards stopped at Logano’s pit stall. He climbed onto the pit box and shook hands with crew chief Todd Gordon.
“Yeah, no apology,” Edwards said. “I just wanted to say, ‘Hey, that’s just racing and good luck to you guys.’ There’s so much on the line. I don’t want to be anything extra to mess with Joey. He’s done a good job and they deserve to go have a good, fair race.”
Logano said he appreciated Edwards’ gesture. Edwards was similarly graceful in defeat in 2011 when he lost the championship to Tony Stewart in a memorable season-finale.
“Carl is a standup guy and a good person,” said Logano, who eventually finished fourth. “That’s pretty cool that he did that. I don’t blame him. He had to throw the block. It was the only move I had.”
Keselowski was an innocent victim of the wreck.
“It’s a product of a (Chase) format that’s based on putting everything (out there) and risking everything,” said Keselowski, Logano’s Team Penske teammate. “It’s not really all that surprising. It’s disappointing. I don’t think that’s great racing, but I understand why it happened on both ends.”