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Edwards cruises to win at Bristol Sharpie 500

Aug 26, 2007 - 4:50 AM BRISTOL, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Carl Edwards took the lead for good with 128 laps to go and survived five restarts to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

In a Ford Fusion, Edwards won by 1.405 seconds, earning his second victory of the season and sixth career in 109 Nextel Cup starts. He promptly celebrated with his trademark backflip off his car at the finish line in celebration.

"Man, this is the biggest win of my career," said Edwards, who locked up a spot in the "Chase for the Championship" with the win. "I'm living a dream. I think every short-track racer out there dreams about this."

It was the first win for Ford in a Car of Tomorrow race.

Pole-sitter Kasey Kahne was second in a Dodge Avenger for his first top-five finish of the season. Kahne led a race-high 305 laps but was passed by Edwards on the inside for the lead on lap 336.

"They did an incredible job - I couldn't get back to (Edwards)," Kahne said. "But we dominated the first part of the race. It was our best run of the season."

The Chevrolet Impalas of Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.

Despite the strong finish, Earnhardt remained 158 points out of 12th place and the final spot for the "Chase," with two races to go before the cut-off.

"I ain't worried about that," Earnhardt said. "I just ran 500 miles at Bristol, so I'm pretty stoked about that."

Kurt Busch, who finished sixth in a Dodge, currently holds down the final playoff spot.

Fourteen drivers still are mathematically eligible to make the "Chase". Earnhardt can not move into the top 12 in the next race unless Busch finishes 42nd or worse.

Series points leader Jeff Gordon was involved in a five-car accident in his Chevrolet with less than 50 laps remaining and finished 19th. He now holds a 349-point lead over Stewart in the standings.

Stewart jumped into second place ahead of Denny Hamlin, who broke a valve spring in his Chevy engine on lap 210 and finished 42nd. It was the first time in 53 races Hamlin was not running at the end.

Matt Kenseth, who won this race the past two years, was involved in the same wreck as Gordon on lap 452 and finished 39th in a Ford.

Despite the disappointing finishes, Hamlin and Stewart locked up berths in the "Chase."

The Dodges of Ryan Newman and Bobby Labonte were seventh and eighth, respectively, followed by the Chevy of Kyle Busch. Greg Biffle's Ford to round out the top-10.

Kyle Busch won the earlier Bristol race in March, the inaugural COT event.

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