O’Reilly Auto Parts 500


FORT WORTH, Texas (November 6, 2016) – Rain returned to Texas Motor Speedway on Lap 293 of Sunday night’s AAA Texas 500, with Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship contender Carl Edwards in the lead and looking for a deluge.

680278023_JM_8682_C92A87553F443900024A84D759E9746CMoments after parking his car on pit road at Texas Motor Speedway, Edwards was informed by NASCAR officials that the result was official - and “Cousin Carl” had secured the second spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 20.

“This is huge. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. Man, it’s really cool,” said Edwards, driver of the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing. “That’s all we said we needed was a shot. We performed the way we needed to and I think we can do that at Homestead.

“It’s really an amazing team I’ve got. I appreciate Coach Gibbs allowing me to be a part of it. Anything short of a championship will be a disappointment. We need to go do it. It’s a huge opportunity. I’m really grateful to everybody that’s making it happen. It’s so much fun, just the idea of getting an opportunity to race for a championship. If we’re able to win that and stand with that championship trophy 14 days from now, that’s as good as it gets.”

Edwards notched his 28th career Cup win in 443 series races, moving into a tie with Kurt Busch and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rex White for 26th on the all-time wins list.

“We had a fast car all weekend,” said team owner Gibbs. “A thrill for us. Just really proud of our team. We’ll tee-it-up and I think it’ll be a great race in Phoenix (next Sunday). Tonight Carl was a long shot to get in…and that’s the great thing about our sport.”

Edwards began the night last among the eight drivers looking to advance into NASCAR’s Championship 4, 32 points behind six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports.

Edwards’ lead over second-place Joey Logano was 0.620-seconds when the race was red-flagged and ended under the night’s eighth caution. “When you’re that close to winning and you lead the most laps (178), second stings,” said Logano, driver of the No. 22 AAA Ford fielded by Team Penske. “That’s our goal every week, is to win. Anything short of that is a failure. I feel like we were so close today.”

Round 9 of the 10-race Chase will move to the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway next weekend with Johnson, Logano and Kyle Busch tied with 4,074 points and Matt Kenseth one point behind. However, Johnson and Edwards are locked into the Championship 4 via their victories in the first two events of the Round of 8. Johnson won last Sunday at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway.

“We’re in right now,” points runner-up Logano said. “We were out going into this race. You know we did the best we could as far as leading laps and getting that bonus point, or two bonus points with the most laps led as well. But we didn’t get the win part. That would have been nice.”

Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin of JGR is fifth in points with 4,072. Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing is sixth with 4,056, followed by Edwards (4,049 but locked-in) and SHR’s Kurt Busch with 4,040 – 34 points behind the three leaders.

Through 251 laps, Logano had led three times for 178 laps after taking the point from polesitter Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing on Lap 1 of an event that started approximately six hours after its original 1 p.m. CT green flag time because of rain and subsequent track-drying efforts. Truex Jr., one of eight drivers to lead the race, paced 66 laps with Edwards leading 36.

Edwards took the lead from Truex Jr. on Lap 258 with the help of an 11-second pit stop after the night’s sixth caution, brought out by Dillon’s slide through Turns 3 and 4 of TMS’ high-banked/1.5-mile quadoval. Edwards had entered the pits second but beat Truex Jr. and Logano onto the track. Edwards never surrendered the lead in an event that was scheduled for 334 laps/501 miles.

“Everyone on the team stepped-up to put everything we had into this race,” said Dave Rogers, Edwards’ crew chief. “We had an opportunity at the end of the race to showcase that and take the lead on pit road, and the rest is history. The rain was a challenge because we saw the small cell coming, so it was a stressful and exciting time.”

Bring it on, Edwards said. “I actually enjoyed it,” said Edwards, alluding to the self-imposed pressure of a “must-win” performance. “This is what we had to do. My pit crew worked really hard this year and I can’t thank them enough. We got a shot at the championship and that’s all we wanted this year.”

Edwards scored his fourth Cup win at TMS (2005 and a sweep in ‘08), second only to Johnson’s six in the series. Edwards also scored his fifth consecutive top-10 in Fort Worth at an average speed of 134.541 mph.

Truex Jr., a non-Chaser, finished third in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota. Cup rookie Chase Elliott battled through flu-like symptoms to finish fourth in the No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet.

Chasers occupied places five through seven on the results sheet. Kyle Busch rallied for a fifth-place finish in his backup No. 18 M&Ms Toyota. Harvick was sixth in the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet and Kenseth was seventh in the No. 20 DEWALT FLEXVOLT Toyota. Non-Chaser Kasey Kahne was eighth in the No. 5 AARP Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.

Chaser Hamlin was ninth in the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, with Johnson 11th in the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. Kurt Busch finished 20th and one-lap down in his No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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