It’s the signature move of signature moves, and Carl Edwards took the time to do another backflip after taking his second win in 2007 at Bristol on Saturday night. The early race was dominated by Kasey Khane who ran at and near the front all day to claim second place, the best finishing position for the Evernham Dodge team all year. He also led 305 of the 500 laps, the most laps he has led this season.
“This is the biggest win of my career,” said Edwards, who has six career victories. “It means the world to win this race.”
The win also locked Carl Edwards in to the top 12 and the Chase for the Championship, which he missed last year.
“We’re back,” declared Edwards, who made the Chase and finished third in the standings in 2005 but failed to make the field last season.
Finishing third was Clint Bowyer after a strong run throughout the race, running stongly but quietly and almost unnoticed all night. He is not mathematically locked into the Chase, but is very close to being locked in joining Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin.
“I am not going to count on that quite yet, not ’til it’s over,” Bowyer said.
Tony Stewart made a late race charge after ealy handling problems to fill fourth position, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth after running near the front all night. Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Bobby Labonte, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle were the others to finish in the top ten.
With all of the contenders near the bottom of the list for the chase, and those trying to get in all finishing pretty near each other the positions around 12th did not change with Kurt Busch holding on to that all important 12th place, and Earnhardt Jr only gaining 5 points on him, remaining in 13th. Ryan Newman remains in 14th, but is not giving up as yet.
“We’re running more consistent, and that’s what it takes if you want to be a championship contender,” said Busch, who won Tuesday’s rain-postponed race in Michigan. “But for us, we still have to get into the Chase. We’re not locked in, so we’re not losing focus with two more races.”
“I want to win. If I can’t make the Chase, I want to win a race,” Earnhardt said. “When we don’t make [the Chase] everybody makes a big deal over it — they talk about it pre-race and talk about it postrace. It’s a bummer when you see that and watch that. You’re just trying to let it go under the radar when you can’t get it done.”
“We still have a shot at it,” Newman said. “Mathematically, we still have a chance. We’re just trying to give it our best shot, each and every lap. That’s good enough in my eyes — whether it’s good enough to make the top 12, we’ll see.”
For many people the start of the show however was the track. After the March race the track was completely torn up, re-profiled and re-concreted, making the track faster and smoother than it ever has been before. With drivers generally unhappy with the last few tracks that have been re-sealed, noone really knew what to expect, but Bruton Smith and his team got it right at Bristol, making for two and even three wide racing at times, instead of the everyone to the bottom groove that we have seen at Bristol for so many years.
Those looking for crashes were to be disappointed as the first 120 laps went caution free, and drivers were free to move all over the track and race, with all three new grooves seeming to be pretty equal. Whatever happens, it’s a new era of racing at Bristol, and now the self proclaimed worlds fastest half mile races better than it ever has in the past.