Carl Edwards Nudges Kyle Busch In Richmond For His Second Win Of 2016by Hunter Thomas April 24, 2016
RICHMOND, Va. – Carl Edwards moved his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch in the final turn on Sunday to win the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
Edwards led on seven occasions for 151 laps in the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday, but none was as important as the last lap when he bumped Kyle Busch out of the way for the win. The two drivers had been strong all day long, but in the closing laps, it was Kyle Busch with the advantage. Busch took the lead away from Edwards on lap 365, just 35 laps from the finish. As the laps dissipated, Edwards got closer-and-closer.
“So going into the white flag Dave (Rogers, crew chief) said something on the radio basically like, ‘Get your butt in gear and go get him,’” Edwards said. “So, I thought, ‘Heck, I’ll drive down there in turn one really far and it looked like Kyle (Busch), his car got real slow that last lap like his tires were just burnt up. He did a really good job keeping me held at bay ‘til then but then we went down the back straightaway and I saw him spin the tires. So, going back down the back straight away I thought, ‘I’m going for the bottom. That’s where I’m going.’”
As the two drivers dove into the final turns, Edwards put the bumper to Busch and pulled off the old bump-and-run move. When they emerged from Turn 4, it was Edwards out front as he earned his second win of the 2016 season. Edwards’ first win of the season came at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend.
“He (Kyle Busch) went down into (turn) one and I dove it in and I got to him and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got something,’” said Busch. “And he went to get down to the bottom and park it in three and four and I had already decided to go down there so I thought, ‘Man, I’m going to give him a little nudge,’ and we both have got wins and we’re racing for fun getting these trophies and just an awesome day.”
The win is also Edwards’ second career at the raceway. The last time Edwards won at Richmond International Raceway was back in 2010. With Sunday’s victory, Edwards now leads the championship point standings by seven over Kevin Harvick.
After the race, Kyle Busch obviously wasn’t exactly thrilled about the finish, but he gave credit to his crew for the strong car. Busch led 78 laps throughout the race, but in the end, he just wasn’t able to hold off his hard charging teammate. The runner-up finish is Busch’s seventh top-10 finish this season and his 16th at the raceway.
“It was just racing I guess,” Busch said. “We had a great car. The Banfield Pet Hospital Camry was really good today. We were fast. Maybe not as good as Carl (Edwards) was on the long run but we did everything right. We did everything we were supposed to do and put ourselves in the right position. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) made some awesome adjustments to this car. We lost it there the second to last run and were fading a little bit but the guys gave me an awesome pit stop, got me track position and got us out front and we had a shot to win so that’s all that matters.”
Jimmie Johnson led 44 laps and finished third. The performance marked his 12th top-10 finish at Richmond International Raceway. With the top-five finish, Johnson is steadily holding third in the championship point standings, only 21 points back from the lead.
“I enjoyed the long runs,” Johnson said. “I really like sizing-up guys that I’m racing with and seeing how that works out. And then, at the end we had a bunch of short runs. Thankfully we got our Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet tuned-up at the end. We kind of lost our way in the middle part of the race, but we had good pit stops and some great adjustments at the end got us into the top-three.”
Kasey Kahne finished fourth after starting eighth. He entered the weekend coming off of a 17th place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. So far this season, Kahne has earned three top-10 finishes.
“We had a strong car, the Mountain Dew Chevrolet,” Kahne said. “We had a great restart there at the end to get a couple spots and get a top five. That was good. We haven’t had a lot of these in the last year, two years. So it was nice to run up front, nice to be competitive, battle with the Gibbs cars a little bit, Jimmie (Johnson) a lot, Kevin (Harvick) some.”
Kevin Harvick started on the pole and had a strong car early on; however he put his No. 4 Busch Light Chevrolet into the outside wall around lap 40. The team was able to rebound to earn a fifth place finish. Harvick led 63 laps throughout the afternoon.
“We started really loose to start the race and got into the wall there and we had to make some more adjustments after I self-adjusted it (laughs),” Harvick said. “And then, we had a couple of really good runs there in the middle of the race. As we started adjusting on it, we never could get the rear drive to go along with the turns.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, along with Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch completed the top-10.
The Toyota Owners 400 saw some of the best racing Richmond International Raceway has seen in years. The successful day was due in part to NASCAR’s newest aerodynamics package, as well as the tire that Goodyear came to the track with this weekend. There were 23 lead changes, which is the most at the raceway since 2007. There were also 18 green flag passes for the lead, which is the most at the raceway since 2010. Throughout the 400-lap event, the race saw 2,083 green flag passes, and that’s the most that the raceway has seen since 2013.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will visit Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 1 for the GEICO 500. Live broadcast for the race will air on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas