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Busch wins; Edwards misses opportunity

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

Jimmie Johnson is right. Carl Edwards should have wrecked Kyle Busch when he had the chance.

In the closing laps of Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch and Edwards raced side-by-side for the win. Busch got the better of the two in that battle, with Edwards refraining from using his bumper to move Busch out of the way.

Afterward, Edwards made it known that he has not forgotten that Busch wrecked him three weeks ago in Phoenix and that he gave Busch a pass on Sunday.

Implying that at some point this season he'll even the score by taking out Busch, after the race Edwards noted: "I still got one in my pocket."

But does he?

The bad blood stems from last month's Subway 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Edwards won the pole and had the fastest car on the track when, early in the race, Busch got loose, chopped down on Edwards and took him out. Busch apologized immediately after, saying it was entirely his fault and made it clear that it absolutely wasn't intentional. Edwards accepted the apology but claimed he still owes Busch one.

Sunday, however, wasn't the time. Edwards chose to keep the payback card in his pocket, possibly deeming a race in March not important enough. The question now is: When will he play it?

While it's early in the season, the two are on a collision course to battle for this year's Sprint Cup title. Edwards has been in contention to win every race this season (save the one when Busch wrecked him), while Busch's only sub-eighth-place finish came at Las Vegas when his engine blew.

Is Edwards actually waiting for the Chase to roll around – when a DNF would have a severe impact – to exact his revenge?

"Carl says what Carl says," surmised Busch. "Apparently I have one coming. When and where it comes, I do not know."

Edwards has a well-documented history of seeking payback. He wrecked Brad Keselowski – more than once – and also has had issues with Busch in the past. But would he be so bold as to seek revenge in the Chase, with a championship on the line?

The thought here is no, and not because Edwards doesn't have the nerve, but because the heavy hand of NASCAR looms.

NASCAR will allow its "boys, have at it" policy to go only so far. Use your fender to pass. No problem. Throw a punch at someone for wrecking you. Go for it. But mess with the championship? Nope. Not going to happen, at least not without a penalty.

Edwards has shown his cards. If anything severe happens between now and September when the Chase begins, NASCAR may be prompted to react, especially given Edwards' history. If there's an incident in the Chase, NASCAR will respond, likely with a severity that would take Edwards out of the title hunt.

"I told him after Phoenix I still owe him one," Edwards said. "But I'll save it up."

Maybe not. Edwards likely missed his best opportunity to call on the debt. After all, there were three bonus points for the Chase up for grabs on Sunday. It's doubtful he'll get a better return than that.

"Should have done it," Johnson, who wound up third, told Edwards after the race.

Johnson's right. He should have done it.

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