DARLINGTON, S.C.—Joe Gibbs couldn’t help but beam about this team victory.
Carl Edwards drove superbly, crew chief Darian Grubb made stellar calls with his car two laps down, and the No. 19 crew got the car out of the pits in first when it counted most.
The result was Edwards’ first win in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
“If you drew this one up tonight, I don’t think you could draw a bigger victory for us,” Gibbs said after Sunday night’s race.
Edwards rallied after falling two laps down because of a flat tire, then beat Brad Keselowski off pit road for the lead 12 laps from the end.
Edwards won the Coca Cola 600 back in May and had six top-10s in the past seven races.
Still, he was looking for a boost that would propel his first-year Joe Gibbs Racing program into the playoffs.
“This is what we needed,” Edwards said.
“We really needed a shot in the arm.”
Now Edwards heads into the “Chase” bursting with confidence in the entire team.
He was two laps behind after this flat around Lap 90. He was in 36th place on Lap 140.
But there he was at the end—pushing pole-sitter Keselowski and defending-Southern 500-winner Kevin Harvick 40 laps from the end.
Keselowski was second while Denny Hamlin finished third.
Joey Logano was fourth, followed by Harvick and the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle.
Edwards gave Joe Gibbs Racing its seventh victory in the last 10 events.
JGR swept the weekend, with Hamlin winning the Xfinity race on Saturday.
Keselowski started on the pole and by far led the most laps with 196.
But he was beaten out of the pits by Edwards on Darlington’s record-setting 18th caution period with 12 laps left.