AAA TEXAS 500: Carl Edwards applied the brakes to Joe Gibbs Racing’s post-season winless streak Sunday night at Texas Motor Speedway, getting a lightning-fast pit stop from his crew and a timely shower from “Mother Nature” to claim victory and secure a spot in the championship race later this month in Miami. As an organization, J-G-R’s four drivers – Edwards, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth – combined to win eleven of the twenty-six regular-season races but were oh-for-seven in this year’s Chase heading into Sunday’s race. Rain delayed the start from afternoon to evening and then stopped the race forty-one laps short of its scheduled distance. In between, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Junior combined to lead 244 laps. But Edwards’ pit crew gave him four fresh tires and fuel in under twelve seconds on their final stop of the night less than forty laps from the finish. The Number-19 Toyota was the first car off pit road and it stayed in front the rest of the way to give Edwards his twenty-eighth career victory and fourth on the Fort Worth oval. Logano grabbed second place after leading a race-high 178 laps. Truex was third with rookie Chase Elliott and Busch – the Number-1 seed in the Chase – completing the top five. Pole sitter Austin Dillon led just six laps and was sidelined by an accident late in the race, finishing thirty-seventh in the forty-car field … With the victory, Edwards joins Jimmie Johnson as the first two drivers to clinch berths in The Championship Four. The six other title contenders will be vying for two remaining spots next weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
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Kyle Busch stormed past race leader Martin Truex Junior thirty-three laps from the finish and kept his Number-18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in front the rest of the way to claim his second victory of the season on Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Busch led only thirty-four laps, but that included the ones that counted most as he beat runner-up Dale Earnhardt Junior to the checkered flag by four seconds. Joey Logano finished third with Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports rookie Chase Elliott completing the top five.
Truex faded to sixth after his crew elected to bypass a final pit stop for fresh tires while other contenders – Busch included – got new rubber. Truex started third and led a race-high 141 laps in his failed bid for victory Number-1 of 2016. Carl Edwards started from the pole and was strong throughout the first half of the race, leading a total of 124 laps en route to a seventh-place finish.
With the win, Busch assures himself of a spot in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with an opportunity to defend his 2015 championship. It was the second straight weekend sweep for Busch, who won Friday night’s X-FINITY Series race on the Fort Worth oval after claiming Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series victories at Martinsville Speedway one weekend earlier. Saturday’s win lifted Busch from third to first in the Cup Series standings, now six points ahead of Johnson and seven up on Kevin Harvick.
Busch’s victory gave Toyota its first Sprint Cup win at T-M-S since he was victorious in this event in 2013 … The race included seventeen lead changes among eight drivers. There were seven cautions for forty-one laps, including a thirteen-car accident along the backstretch less than forty laps from the finish.
From the Sprint Cup Series’ shortest track, Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR now moves to one of its fastest ovals with this coming weekend’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The preliminary entry list shows forty drivers led by defending race winner Jimmie Johnson and regular-season points leader Kevin Harvick. The four non-Charter drivers on the list are rookie Ryan Blaney, Cole Whitt, Josh Wise and Reed Sorenson.
Johnson leads all competitors with six victories on the mile-and-a-half Fort Worth oval including three in a row and five of the last seven. Carl Edwards is next in line with three wins … There’s competitive balance among NASCAR’s three participating manufacturers with each brand winning the track’s spring race once over the last three seasons: Chevrolet with Johnson last year, Ford with Joey Logano in 2014 and Toyota with Kyle Busch in 2013.X-FINITY Series teams also will be competing at T-M-S with Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto
X-FINITY Series teams also will be competing at T-M-S with Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. There are thirty-nine drivers on the preliminary entry led by defending race winner Erik Jones and points leader Daniel Suarez, teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing.
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