Edwards wins marathon event in California

By Nancy Knapp Schilke - Motorsport.com
February 25, 2008

Apparently his back-flips keep Carl Edwards in great shape, today, he earned the win at the two-day (with a rest break) marathon event at the Auto Club (California) Speedway. Of course, all of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers ran the same marathon except those who paid the price last night and today with the incidents/mechanical failures in the caution-filled race.

Edwards sailed into the lead for the final time, moving past the 2007 Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on lap 237, taking the high line. With a nice cushion over the two Hendrick Motorsports drivers, Johnson and Jeff Gordon, the Roush Fenway Racing driver took the white flag and won the race!

"I'm very proud to be driving that Ford Fusion today," said Edwards. "Ford and Roush Fenway and all engineers, everyone has worked really hard, all of them have worked very hard this winter and it's paid off. This is the reason we won this race today is because of the preparations. I'm proud to be driving that car right now. It's a lot of fun."

The 12th caution came out on the final lap when Dale Jarrett hit the wall, freezing the field. Edwards win the eighth of his career but more importantly for RFR, it was number nine out of 16 on the 2.0-mile oval in Fontana.

There was little time for a victory celebration as Edwards and other Cup drivers had to head back to the garages to prepare for the Nationwide race which was rained out on Saturday evening.

Johnson finished second with Gordon third. The two Chevy powered cars were not fast enough to take the lead back from the Ford driver. Johnson gave it a good shot on the 236th lap, Edwards moved by on the inside but Johnson moved back by a mere inches to maintain the lead.

"It's been a great weekend for us. I really feel from the test session, even through the first and only practice session that we had, that short one we had, we learned a lot about the cars, made a lot of ground. So I'm very thankful to the effort Chad put in and also the 24 team and how hour teams worked together," said Johnson.

His teammate, Gordon felt lucky to finish today. "We definitely were hoping to get a solid one here today, and we did. Car was really good. That track position was real important. I thought we were going to be better during the daytime than we were. We struggled a little bit with it today with just grip, especially up off the corner."

For Kyle Busch, his goal to leave California as the first NASCAR driver to lead all three series standings is one race away. By finishing fourth in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, he took over the points lead in the Cup series with 335 points to Ryan Newman's 329. Tony Stewart is third with 316 with a seventh place finish today.

"It's a good championship points day," said Busch, who gave Toyota their first time in the top position in the Cup standings. "It was pretty cool out there to run the way we did in our Interstate Batteries Toyota. Unfortunately, we didn't have quite the car to get up there and contend with those boys at the end, but overall a good day and that's all we can ask for."

Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr were sandwiched between the two JGR drivers in fifth and sixth, respectively. Rounding out the top-10 were Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Newman.

The Nationwide Series race was completed and Kyle Busch's own Cup series teammate kept him from his goal. Tony Stewart dominated the race and earned the victory, he is now two-for-two after his win at Daytona. Busch finished second and holds that same position in the standings. Still the young driver sits atop the Cup and Craftsman Truck Series standings after another great performance doing triple-duty at the same venue.

"Tony was pretty much in a league of his own all day for some reason," admitted Busch. "The biggest thing we try to do is to get results and get wins -- that is the optimum thing that you want to do it to get your team to victory lane. It's been a good weekend for me. You can't really complain coming out of two weekends off and all six finishes in the top-five."

Fontana: Greg Biffle race quotes

GREG BIFFLE -- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (finished 15th)

IF THE CHASE IS A MARATHON, WAS THIS THE FIRST MARATHON RACE? "This was a marathon California race, for sure. It felt like the 24 Hours of Daytona or something. We ended up with a 15th-place finish; not where we wanted, but it will be a good start to the season."

MANY HAVE SAID THAT THIS WILL THE FIRST REAL TEST FOR THE NEW CAR. HOW WOULD YOU GRADE IT? "It went fairly well. I don't think we did very good, but the car did fairly good."

YOU WERE QUITE PLEASED WITH YOUR CAR YESTERDAY, SO IS A 15TH-PLACE FINISH A DISAPPOINTMENT? "Oh, yeah. I don't know what happened. The 99 wasn't very good last night, he was so-so and we were really good, and then the weather just swapped it."

THE WEATHER DIFFERENCE FROM LAST NIGHT TO TODAY MADE THAT MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE? "Oh, yeah. It was just hot and sunny, couldn't get a hold of the track. It was too loose. We just missed it today."