RICHMOND, Va.—Carl Edwards had been grinding for 30 laps yesterday—doing everything he could to catch Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in a two-way breakaway from the pack at Richmond International Raceway.
When he finally caught him on the last lap, and in the final turn, he had no time to think about what would be the prudent thing to do.
Instead, Edwards focused on the reason they are racing: to win.
Edwards bumped his sometimes-volatile teammate off his racing line in the last turn and passed him to win his second-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
It was the fourth in a row for the Gibbs’ racing stable, and fifth in nine races.
NASCAR said it was the first last-lap pass for a victory in the history of the premier series at the track—a span of 120 races.
“I wish it was anybody but my teammate that we had to race like that with, but big picture to me is we’ve both got some wins, we’re in the ‘Chase,’ and it’s fun to have to race your teammate for the win,” Edwards reasoned.
“If the roles were reversed, I would have expected him to bump me the same way.”
Gibbs said there’s no game plan for how to handle the next team meeting.
“What you do is you just start out and work your way through it, and that’s what we’ll do,” he remarked.
Edwards, who had fallen nearly 1.5 seconds behind after a restart with 36 laps to go, gradually ran Busch down—catching him on the final lap.
Then he slipped underneath Busch, a master blocker in late-race situations, and nudged him just enough to allow Edwards to get inside him.
After falling so far behind, Edwards was surprised to find himself in position to challenge for the victory.
“Man, I didn’t think we had anything,” he admitted. “Kyle was just so good for that run.
“I was just doing everything I could.
“If [crew chief] Dave [Rogers] hadn’t screamed at me to just go get him, I don’t know if I would have dove it in there that hard,” Edwards added.
Busch seemed less than amused after being denied his third victory in the last four races.
“We just kind of gave it up a little bit there on the last lap, but I guess that’s racing and we move on,” he said.
Jimmie Johnson finished third, follow by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne and pole-sitter Kevin Harvick.
Gibbs placed all four of its drivers in the top seven, with Denny Hamlin sixth and Matt Kenseth seventh.