Monday, September 1, 2014

Edwards tops at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn.—If two rain delays totalling more than five hours weren’t enough, the water-logged race at Bristol Motor Speedway had a battery fly out of a car and spread a toilet paper-looking substance all over the track.
And that wasn’t even the strangest occurrence yesterday.

Moments before Carl Edwards closed in on what should have been the white flag lap, the caution lights accidentally were turned on from the flag stand.
As NASCAR tried to figure out what was going on, the sky opened up and prevented the race from resuming.
Edwards was awarded the win under caution—a victory he was headed to before the mishap—and celebrated his third career win at Bristol with his trademark backflip on the slick concrete.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice-president of competition, said a person in the flag stand leaned on the manual override switch and that turned on the caution lights.
Six seconds after the lights were turned on, the flag man waved the yellow flag.
Pemberton said the flag man can wave the caution flag without a call from series officials in the tower if they see a proper reason.
“We were scanning cars and spotters, and there’s some of us in the tower that only heard it after the teams were talking about it because we were looking at other things around the racetrack,” Pemberton noted.
“No harm, no foul,” said Edwards.
“Let’s act like it just didn’t happen.”
The victory makes Edwards the fourth winner in four races this season and, under NASCAR’s new rules, is supposed to get him into the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“Just to have a win this early, man, it is a huge relief,” he remarked.
Aric Almirola finished a career-best third—and Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Marcos Ambrose was fifth as four Ford drivers placed in the top five.
But Ambrose felt he could have gotten more.
He re-started second behind Carl Edwards with 70 laps to go and had one solid chance to take the lead.
If he’d gotten past Edwards, he just might have grabbed his first career victory.
“These races are so hard to win, and it was a great day for us,” Ambrose said.
“I’m not disappointed at all with third, but when you see it and you can taste it and it’s that close, you wonder what could have went different.”
Tony Stewart, meanwhile, salvaged what looked like it was going to be an awful weekend with a season-best fourth-place finish.
It came after he qualified 37th, needed two Saturday practice sessions with crew chief Chad Johnston to make significant improvements to the car, and needed the entire race to work his way into the top-10.
“It’s a step in the right direction, for sure,” said Stewart.
“This is a big one,” he added. “If you come out of this place with a top-five you’ve had a good day.”
But Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s strong start to the season finally came to an end at Bristol, where he finished 24th after opening with a win and two second-places.
Although his Chevrolet wasn’t great all weekend, his trouble yesterday was compounded by two left-front tire issues.
Once he was out of contention, he basically was just making laps for the bulk of the race.
It cost Earnhardt the points lead, which went to Brad Keselowski.
Earnhardt now trails Keselowski by 10 points.

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