Edwards Rides Winning Sonoma Momentum into the Quaker State 400 pres. by Advance Auto Parts
SONOMA, Calif. - Roush Fenway Racing's (RFR) Carl Edwards nailed down his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) victory of the season and first on the 3.18- mile Sonoma Raceway road course Sunday by a tight 0.591 of a second ahead of Hendrick Motorsports' Jeff Gordon.
Edwards victory placed him in a four-way tie for second in NSCS season victories and will prove vital to helping him lock in a position in the first 16-driver, 10-race elimination Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that begins Sept. 14 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Outracing Gordon, who holds the series best Sonoma Raceway record made up of five victories, 14 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes through 22 starts, made the experience sweeter for Edwards.
"That's a moment I'll never forget, to be standing in Victory Lane and to have held off Jeff Gordon with all of the success he's had here and in our sport," Edwards said. " It's just really, really special. Literally, I'm a fan of this sport and I grew up watching Jeff Gordon go through those esses (turns) and watching how he drove his car, so to be able to hold him off like that means a lot.
Edwards assumed the race lead for his first and only time on Lap 85 by wheeling his No. 99 Ford around Marcos Ambrose's No. 9 Ford on Lap 85 during the fifth of six race caution periods and led the closing 26 laps on tires that were gradually losing grip.
Crew chief Jimmy Fenning's call for two tires on a Lap 70 pit stop combined with the three timely caution periods that followed to provide Edwards the opportunity to capture his 23rd NSCS victory and the 123rd for team owner Jack Roush.
"It was real tough and that last lap was ugly. I don't know what it looks like, but that's the best I've got. It almost wasn't good enough. I'm glad there wasn't one or two more laps in the race because I don't know if it would have worked out that way," Edwards added.
Gordon earned his sixth top-five and 12th top-10 finish of the season in his No. 24 car. He continues to hold the series championship lead and will enter the June 28 Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway with a 20-point advantage on his teammate, Jimmie Johnson, who placed seventh at Sonoma, notching his 11th top-10 finish of the season through 16 races.
"I was making some ground up on Carl," Gordon said. "I was good in the fast sections and he was pretty good in the slow sections. So, I was having to hit everything so perfect. I just overdrove it (the No. 24) into (Turn) 4 one time and went real wide off. That gave him enough of a gap that I had to close it back in and I just couldn't put enough pressure on him.
"I saw him really struggling with the grip level. On that last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him, but I just drove into (Turn) 11 as hard as I could. He drove a clean race and he did everything you need to do."
Kentucky Speedway's race week begins Thursday with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) UNOH 225 and continues Friday with the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Both Edwards and Gordon will aim for what would be a significant Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts victory Saturday.
Edwards can complete a NASCAR national series career Kentucky sweep with his first NSCS victory on the rough 1.5-mile tri-oval. Kentucky Speedway is the only NSCS track at which Gordon hasn't visited Victory Lane.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch and Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski will attempt to complete all 925 miles of Kentucky weekend racing for the third time in their careers. Both own NSCS victories at the track. Busch is the only driver to race to four victories in four different series at the speedway. Keselowski is one of three multiple NNS winners in track history.
Tickets, ticket specials and packages along with campsites can be purchased in advance through the Get Tickets page of this website, by calling (859) 578-2300 or visiting the speedway ticket office at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, Ky., just off of Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N. Tickets also will be on sale at the speedway gates on race days.
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