SPRINT Sharpie 500Final
Edwards wins Sharpie 500Aug 24, 2008 - 5:42 AM BRISTOL, Tennessee (Ticker) -- A nudge appears to have started a war.
Carl Edwards used the bump-and-run tactic to pass a dominant Kyle Busch with 31 laps remaining in the Sharpie 500 on Saturday and raced to victory.
The race was not a typical Bristol demolition derby but turned into one after Edwards and Busch crossed the finish line.
An agitated Busch hit the Ford of Edwards, who immediately retaliated, turning Busch's Toyota. Busch attempted to get back at Edwards, but NASCAR officials waved him to pit road.
"They keep talking about a rivalry," Edwards said his sixth Sprint Cup triumph of the season. "We might have one."
Edwards is second to Busch in the "Chase for the Championship" standings. He moved the leader out of the way after Busch had led for 415 consecutive laps.
Busch scrambled back for second after falling behind Denny Hamlin while being passed by Edwards.
"That's one of those deals where I couldn't get by him and I couldn't get by him, and I just had to ask myself, 'Would he do that to me?' And he has before, so that's the way it goes," Edwards said after posting his second straight Sprint Cup victory.
"But in the back of my mind, all I could think about was Richmond in a Nationwide race when he was trying to get through the field and he piledrove me. That's just the way it is. It's just racing. I have a lot of respect for the guy and he was real fast, but we can't give up points when they're right there for us to take."
Busch wasn't buying any of it.
"Carl is gonna apologize the way Carl always does, Mr. Ed-like," Busch said when asked about the bump-and-run move that knocked him from the lead.
Edwards actually understood Busch's frustration.
"No, Kyle's not a poor loser, he was mad and I can completely empathize with his anger," said Edwards, who trails Busch by 212 points with two races left before "The Chase." "I probably would have done the exact same thing, so that's the way I feel about that."
Hamlin's Toyota and the Chevrolets of Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.
"We needed it pretty bad. I could have fought a little harder for third and fourth with Denny and Kevin, but it just wasn't worth it," Gordon said. "We had to come home with a great finish, a top-five. Rather than getting together with Denny and Tony (Stewart) that one time, we had a pretty uneventful night."
The biggest loser was Kasey Kahne, who was involved in a multi-car accident and finished 40th. Kahne stands 14th in the standings, 56 points out of "The Chase" with two races remaining.
"The crash happened so fast. I just saw cars wrecking everywhere in front of me and there was nothing that I could do," Kahne said. "I saw the 5 (car of Casey Mears) and 55 (of Michael Waltrip) and the next thing that I know, I got hit from behind and tore up our Budweiser Dodge up pretty good.
"It's disappointing because we're going to take a hit in the 'Chase' points, but that's the risk you run here at Bristol."
The first major incident of the night happened on lap 84, where A.J. Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr. tangled.
On lap 195, there was a multi-car crash that took out Jeff Burton, who is fifth in the points standings, Sterling Marlin and Joe Nemechek.
"Typical Bristol wreck," Burton said. "But if you look in front of you, you tend not to hit stuff. I was trying to be smart and cautious, but didn't do me any good, I got wrecked anyhow."
The race was red-flagged after a big crash on lap 215 that started when Waltrip hit Mears. Others involved were Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr. and Reed Sorenson.
"Michael Waltrip is the worst driver in NASCAR, period," said Bowyer, who recovered to finish seventh.
Bowyer is 12th in the standings, a dozen points ahead of David Ragan for the last "Chase" spot.
"We got caught up in someone else's mess," Bowyer said. "It was a total team effort tonight. Our pit stops were awesome and the car was great. We came out of Bristol with a top 10 and we're back inside the top 12. It was a really, really good night."
The race had a rough start for two drivers. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was penalized for passing cars before the start, and Jimmie Johnson's car was involved in an accident after 25 laps. He quickly fell 13 laps down and finished 33rd.
"We struggled all night. I don't know what the deal was," Earnhardt said after finishing 18th. "That wasn't too good of a run there. I am not too proud of that, I was a little embarrassed. I figured we would be OK in the 'Chase.'
"Man, we have to get our heads on straight, you know what I mean? Obviously, we aren't doing things right here. We need to get smart and do it right. It was a tough night. It was tough to deal with."
- Sharpie 500 Preview Aug 22