Carl Edwards' Sprint Cup Series 70-race winless streak is over after he held off Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski at Phoenix International Raceway on a green-white-checker restart for his first win in almost two years.
On the restart, which came after Ken Schrader's crash with three laps to go, Keselowski pushed Edwards from the start/finish line all the way into turn one, allowing Edwards to clear both he and Johnson and cruise to the finish. And most importantly, cruise to the finish under power.
"Oh I know, I talked to a couple people about that this week ... 'I’m about to start getting mad,'" Edwards said about the streak. "I try to stay positive but we really, really like winning and I can’t say enough about everybody believing in me. I’m telling you, we’re back, this is going to be good. Whatever it is you’re doing out there, don’t lose hope. Keep digging and things can work out, I’m proof. This is just awesome, one of the coolest wins of my life."
As the race wound down, the lead lap cars were cutting it short on fuel as the race's final set of pit stops came just inside the teams' window to finish the race without stopping again. And Schrader's caution flag looked like it would make fuel even more of a factor. But while Keselowski said he ran out of gas crossing the finish line, fuel (or a lack of it) didn't affect the race's finishing order.
Edwards' last Sprint Cup Series win came March 6, 2011 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and his 70-race winless streak tied the longest streak of his career. The track where he broke that first 70-race streak? Phoenix, where he won 2010's fall race.
In victory lane, you could sense the relief in Edwards' voice. Not only because he had gotten his first win in over 700 days but because being doused with Gatorade at Phoenix was a stark contrast to what happened at Daytona during Speedweeks, where Edwards was involved in five accidents, including one in the Daytona 500.
Does this victory automatically make Edwards a contender again? No, not by itself, and besides, it's still way too early to think seriously about the championship. But this win could serve as a great springboard for Edwards to wipe out the memories of 2012 and once again be a factor in the title race.
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