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Carl Edwards races to 1st career road course win PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, June 22, 2014 8:06 PM

Associated Press

 

SONOMA, Calif. — Carl Edwards has never been known for his road racing skills — to the point team owner Jack Roush had to send him testing in a 2-seater so Boris Said could teach him the basics.

A decade later, Edwards finally has a win to show for his hard work.

And he beat road racing ace Jeff Gordon to get to Victory Lane on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, where Gordon leads all drivers with five wins.

“My road racing progression, it’s been a pretty long climb,” Edwards said. “The real special part to me was to stand in Victory Lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second-place finisher. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon and specifically watching how he drove this race track and all the successes he had here, so I mean, that’s really super. It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Edwards’ win made Roush Fenway Racing the unlikely organization to end Hendrick Motorsports’ 5-race winning streak. And the win came a week after Roush was shut out at Michigan, where the organization failed to put a car in the top 10 for the first time since 2000.

Edwards took the lead on a restart with 25 laps remaining and seemed to have the win wrapped up until Gordon nearly chased him down on the final lap. Gordon had one good look at Edwards and couldn’t pull off the pass.

“That last lap was ugly,” Edwards said of trying to hold off Gordon.

It wasn’t a terrible day for the Hendrick organization, which had won every Sprint Cup Series race since Gordon’s victory at Kansas on May 10. Instead, HMS settled for all four of its drivers finishing in the top seven.

Gordon, the Sprint Cup Series points leader, wound up second. He said he made one mistake in overdriving a turn with about five laps to go that allowed Edwards to build a healthy lead.

“I just couldn’t put enough pressure on him,” Gordon explained. “I think had I put some more pressure on him, I saw him really struggling with the (tire) grip level, but he did everything he needed to do. That last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him and he didn’t overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide up and I’d get a run on him.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third after rallying from an incident that wrecked Matt Kenseth and was apologetic on the radio and after the race.

“I tried to screw it up a couple times in the race but I calmed down and was able to get a good finish,” Earnhardt said after his career-best finish on a road course. “I got into Matt, I jumped a curb and jumped into the air and just ran into him. Totally my fault. I hope he’s not sore with me.”

Kasey Kahne bounced back from an early flat tire to finish sixth and Jimmie Johnson was seventh.

In all, Chevrolet drivers took spots two through seven as pole-sitter Jamie McMurray, using a Hendrick engine, finished fourth and Paul Menard was fifth.

Fords rounded out the top 10, led by Edwards, Marcos Ambrose eighth and Roush driver Greg Biffle was 10th.

The highest-finishing Toyota was Clint Bowyer in 11th. Bowyer was the leader on a restart with 31 laps to go, was passed by Ambrose, then got a flat left rear tire. The tire problem led to Jamie McMurray turning Bowyer and as Bowyer’s car was stopped in the middle of the track, bottleneck traffic caused Kevin Harvick to run into Bowyer.

Edwards’ win is his first career victory on a road course; he’d never been higher than third at Sonoma. More important, it was his second win of this season and locks him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship field.

It was Edwards’ 23rd win of his career, the 135th Sprint Cup Series victory for car owner Jack Roush, and it made Edwards the 10th consecutive different winner at Sonoma.

Crew chief Jimmy Fennig said the race played into their hands after pitting with 40 to go and then a caution came out and Fennig made the call to not bring Edwards in a second time under yellow. The strategy moved Edwards toward the front of the field and he moved his way to the front.

“When you got somebody like Carl behind the wheel and you put him out front, he’s going to get it done,” Fennig added. “To have two wins right now and to be locked in really feels good.”

Vida Blue sticks to slow stuff at Sonoma: Vida Blue stuck to the slow stuff at Sonoma Raceway.

The former star pitcher for the Oakland A’s in the 1970s was content in his role as grand marshal of the NASCAR race and had no urge whatsoever to get behind the wheel.

“My insurance probably would have found out if I tried that,” Blue cracked before Sunday’s race. “But those cars are heavy and I’m faint of heart.”

Blue previously attended one IndyCar race at the speedway. He was surprised by the crowds and noise and left after a couple of laps.

This year, he accepted an invitation to direct the drivers to start their engines. He calls himself a casual fan of racing but was able to rattle off details about drivers, manufacturers and strategy.

Blue joked that he’s driven fast only once — on Interstate 580 late one night.

“I had a Maserati and I looked down. I was going about 110 mph,” he added. “I kind of backed off. I didn’t realize I was going that fast. That was my impersonation of being a race car driver.”

Capps wins NHRA New England Nationals

EPPING, N.H. — Ron Capps raced to his first victory of the season and 41st overall, beating Alexis DeJoria in the Funny Car final Sunday in the NHRA New England Nationals.

Capps had a winning run of 4.095 seconds at 315.19 mph in his Dodge Charger.

Tony Schumacher won in Top Fuel, Dave Connolly in Pro Stock and Angie Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Seven-time season champion Schumacher won for the second time this season and 74th overall. He had a pass of 3.824 at 323.27 to beat points leader Doug Kalitta.

Connolly had a 6.536 at 213.23 in a Chevy Camaro to beat Gray Motorsports teammate Jonathan Gray. It was Connolly’s 24th victory and first since 2012.

Smith raced to her first career victory, beating husband and teammate Matt Smith with a pass of 6.905 at 191.89 on a Buell. It was the first husband-wife final in an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Rosberg beats Hamilton to win Austrian GP

SPIELBERG, Austria — Formula One returned to business as usual Sunday as Nico Rosberg led Lewis Hamilton at the Austrian Grand Prix for the sixth 1-2 finish by Mercedes.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo won the Canadian GP two weeks ago and Williams’ Felipe Massa took pole position for Sunday’s race but this had little effect on Mercedes which had missed out on the front row of the grid for the first time this season.

Rosberg celebrated his third win of the year and sixth overall as he extended his lead in the drivers’ championship over Hamilton to 29 points — 165 vs. 136.

Williams’ Valtteri Bottas came third for his first career F1 podium while teammate Massa took fourth. Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel quit the race on lap 36 after overcoming engine problems early in the race.

Rosberg succeeded where his father Keke had just failed 32 years ago, when he came up 0.05 short of Elio de Angelis at the 1982 Austrian GP.

However, Keke Rosberg went on to become world champion that year, a feat Nico Rosberg is reluctant to think about yet.

Hamilton, the 2008 F1 champion who was ninth after qualifying, earned four places from a blistering start and won another place to work his way up to fourth in the opening lap.

 

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