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Sunday, November 2
Texas Motor Speedway
Fort Worth, TX
Edwrads Wins, Cuts Johnson's Point Lead
FORT WORTH, TX. -- "It ain't over til it's over," baseball legend Yogi Berra once said.
NASCAR driver Carl Edwards is a believer.
The Missouri native, who cut his racing teeth on dirt tracks throughout the Midwest, dominated the field Sunday to win the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
A huge, sun-baked crowd watched Edwards skillfully cut into Jimmie Johnson's lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship with two races to go in the 2008 season.
Edwards coaxed his Roush Ford home on fumes ahead of the field after a series of caution flags put him behind when all the top-running cars took two tires while Edwards took four.
While those cars had to stop for gas, Edwards stayed on the track and held off on the gas pedal for the final dozen laps.
He trimmed some of Johnson's point lead, starting the day 183 points behind, and ending the day 106 points behind. Johnson managed to finish 15th, which was his worst performance in this championship run. He is trying to make it three in a row, which would make him the first driver since Cale Yarborough did it 30 years ago, back in the Junior Johnson days.
It was Edwards' eighth win of the year and the Office Depot driver charged around the 1-1/2-mile trioval as if his Ford was on rails.
Jeff Gordon finished second, also gambling on going the distance at the end without stopping for gas.
Trailing Edwards and Gordon were Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., Matt Kenseth and David Reutimann.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wound up 20th.
The win was Ford's 10th of the season and has sparked interest in the NASCAR Manufacturer's Championship with Chevrolet and Toyota also holding 10 wins for the year. The circuit heads to Phoenix, Ariz., next week before winding up at Homestead-Miami Speedway the following weekend.
Pole-sitter Gordon shot under the green flag at the start and built a sizeable lead over Bowyer. Young Brad Keselowski flirted with the third turn retaining wall within a few laps of the start but managed to keep his machine out of harm's way. Bowyer, in the meantime, reeled in Gordon and passed him for the lead on the 16th lap. Earnhardt, who started fifth, passed Gordon a straightaway later.
Reutimann was impressive early as was Juan Pablo Montoya, both moving quickly into the top 10 spots.
By lap 30, Reutimann had moved from 12th to second behind Bowyer. Edwards had moved from 16th to third and Montoya had raced from 26th to 10th.
It was Bowyer, Reutimann, Edwards, McMurray and Earnhardt out front, followed by Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Johnson, Biffle and Montoya.
Reutimann took the lead from Bowyer on lap 49. Once the leaders pitted, Bowyer regained the lead over Edwards and Reutimann.
On lap 57, Reed Sorenson had engine problems and brought out the caution for the first time.
When the race resumed on lap 65, it was Edwards out front and Bowyer second. Biffle was next, followed by McMurray, Reutimann, Montoya, Gordon, Truex, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and Kenseth. Earnhardt dropped to 16th by making an extra stop, and Johnson dropped back to 21st.
On lap 96, leader Edwards put points leader Johnson a lap behind. Johnson apparently had some sort of problem but maintained radio silence. After the next round of pit stops, Johnson went back out in 30th position but was still not making much progress catching the leaders.
Edwards was clearly the class of the field and had moved into position by lap 143 to put a lap on two-time champion Tony Stewart, who got his lap back one lap later when the second caution of the day waved, making Stewart the "lucky dog" winner.
The race was restarted on lap 148 with Edwards still in front. Biffle trailed followed by McMurray, Brian Vickers, Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Reutimann, Montoya, Truex and David Ragan.
Edwards had a five-second lead at the halfway point. Johnson was running 23rd one lap down.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
Race Recap click here
Carl Edwards straps into his car during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. Edwards was fastest
in the session; he will start 16th Sunday's as a result of his FRiday qualifying run.
Saturday Final Practice Speed Chart click here
Dickies 500: Race 8 in the Chase
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Track: 1.5-mile tri-oval
The Distance: 334 laps/501 miles
TV: ABC, 4 p.m. (AT)
Radio: PRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2007 Polesitter: Martin Truex Jr.
Pre-Race Schedule - local track time: Friday—Practice, noon-1:30 p.m. Qualifying, 3:40 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. and 12:50-1:50 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Practice: Friday Oct 31 at 2 p.m. (ESPN2)
Qualifying: Friday Oct 31 at 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2, TSN & Sirius Satellite Radio)
Final Practice: Saturday Nov 1 at 7 p.m. (ESPN2-SDD)
RaceDay: Sunday Nov 2 at 11 a.m. (SPEED)
RaceDay - Special Edition: Sunday Nov 2 at 3 p.m. (SPEED)
Countdown: Sunday Nov 2 at 4 p.m. (ABC & TSN)
Race: Sunday Nov 2 at 4:30 p.m. (ABC, TSN & Sirius Satellite Radio)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Qualifying Notes & Starting Lineup
Jeff Gordon won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Dickies 500 with a lap of 28.652 seconds, 188.469
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- This is his 67th pole in 543 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- This is his fourth pole and 24th top-10 start in 2008.
- This is his first pole in 16 races at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Martin Truex Jr. (second) posted his eighth top-10 start of 2008 and his third in seven races at Texas
- Clint Bowyer (third) posted his second top-10 start at Texas Motor Speedway. It is his 10th in 34 races
- Sam Hornish Jr. (21st) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Tony Raines, Bryan Clauson, Chad McCumbee, Max Papis and Johnny Sauter.
- Jimmie Johnson Bolsters Chase Lead, Hopes To Defend Texas Win...Reigning and two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson’s (No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet) is in familiar territory as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series prepares for Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
He’s out front, leading the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings by 183 points over second-place Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) and 185 over third-place Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford). And once again, Johnson heads to a track where he won during last year’s remarkable, late Chase run.
In 2007, Johnson won four of the final five races to clinch his second series title. He didn’t win last week at Atlanta, but he rallied from early trouble to finish second behind Edwards, the winner.
Now, he approaches the fall event at Texas with similar confidence, thanks in part to excellent pre-race Loop Data statistics.
Johnson is tied with two-time series champion Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota) for the top pre-race Driver Rating (107.9). His average finish of 9.2 is second-best.
Certainly, much racing remains. Johnson must average a ninth-place finish over the final three races — at Texas, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway — to clinch a third consecutive series title.
“I’m living inside my own head,” Johnson said. “I feel very good about where we’re at and I’m trying hard not to pay attention to outside opinions and what’s really going on out there. So, I’m just keeping my head down and staying focused on the things I can control.”
- What To Expect At Texas: A Roush Fenway Charge...While Jimmie Johnson continues to pursue a championship, many factors loom at Texas Motor Speedway, where Roush Fenway Racing in general and Carl Edwards in particular have excelled.
Roush Fenway drivers have won six of the 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup events held at Texas, including the April race, which Edwards won.
Edwards has two wins, two top fives, two top 10s and one DNF (did not finish) in seven career starts at Texas. He claims the sixth-best pre-race Driver Rating (96.0) and is second in Fastest Laps Run with 177.
Biffle has one win, one top five, two top 10s and four DNFs in nine career starts there. His pre-race Driver Rating for Texas ranks 10th, at 88.8, but he’s second in Fastest Laps Run there with 178.
Former Roush Fenway driver Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet), fourth in the Chase and in his third season with Richard Childress Racing, has two wins, three top fives, seven top 10s and one DNF in 15 career starts at Texas.
He’s also the only driver with two wins there.
Edwards may be on a mini-roll. He won last Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and also won Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Memphis. He has seven wins this season, trailing only Kyle Busch’s (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota) series high of eight.
And Edwards’ wins have come in bunches.
Twice, he’s won back-to-back races in 2008 — at Las Vegas and Atlanta in March, and at Michigan and Bristol in August.
- Legendary Crew Chief Dale Inman On Chad Knaus’ Title Pursuit...If two-time and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson clinches his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup title, crew chief Chad Knaus will join him in the historical spotlight.
NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough is the only driver to win three consecutive series titles. He did it in 1976-78, but with different crew chiefs — Herb Nab in ‘76 and ‘77 and the combination of Tim Brewer and Travis Carter in ‘78.
Knaus, 37, would be the first crew chief to oversee three consecutive title runs.
“There’s so many things that you can’t control and there‘s so many things you can control,” said former Petty Enterprises crew chief Dale Inman of Knaus’ possible accomplishment. “And if you don’t make mistakes there, you’re in good shape.”
Inman, 72, knows. He’s won more NASCAR Sprint Cup titles than any other crew chief — the architect of Richard Petty’s NASCAR-record seven series titles, plus two-time series champion Terry Labonte’s 1984 title run.
Twice, “The King” and Inman won back-to-back titles, in 1971-72 and again in 1974-75.
Each time, a third one eluded them.
Inman says so many uncontrollable variables are part of what make winning three consecutive titles so difficult. He cites the 1968 season, which followed his and Petty’s 1967 title run.
“In ‘67 we couldn’t do no wrong and ’68 we couldn’t do anything but wrong,” Inman said of an eventual third-place finish in the standings. “Stuff broke that you weren’t supposed to be able to break with a hammer.”
As for Knaus, Inman marvels at the work ethic and commitment he’s observed from afar.
“Chad’s on top of his game right now,” Inman said. “To win two in a row is big. It’s just about a foregone conclusion. And they’ve worked hard for it, and he gives his all on it and I’m sure the crew chief and the driver are on the same page.”
Although a crew chief’s job has changed over the years, Inman warns that chemistry between driver and pit box can’t be overestimated.
“You’ve got to believe in each other,” he says. “There’s no question about that. And the driver’s got to explain to the crew chief what he wants and you’ve got to be able to interpret that.
“In mine and Richard’s case, we grew up working on his daddy’s (Lee Petty’s) race car, so it was a foregone conclusion for us. We just put it to good use and it worked out for us.”
Johnson and Knaus hail from different backgrounds, but their seven-year partnership has proven productive.
“Give it to Chad,” Inman said. “He’s been on top of his game all season long and it’s looks like he’s going to win it again.”
- Recaptured Form: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wrapping Up Solid Debut With Hendrick Motorsports...NASCAR’s most popular driver once again looks like one of NASCAR’s best drivers.
That’s a summation of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2008 season, with three weeks remaining. It’s also solace for the millions of fans who support the driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet.
Earnhardt has fallen out of contention for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, but from a big picture perspective, what’s important is that he was in contention to begin with. Earnhardt returned to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field this season, his first season with Hendrick Motorsports following his dramatic departure from Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Earnhardt comes into Texas 10th in the series standings He also comes in with a lasting memory: In 2000, as a rookie fresh off winning back-to-back championships in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Earnhardt got his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Texas.
Afterward, he was joined in Victory Lane for an emotional celebration with his father, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt.
“I feel pretty good about how we ran this year and how we have been able to be fast pretty much every week,” Earnhardt said last week at Atlanta, where he finished 11th. “I will just try to go in, do it again, do it better next year … I’m real confident in our ability to go out next year and make a better showing.”
- Double-Duty Paying Off Big For Edwards, In Quest For Two Titles...Carl Edwards nabbed victories in two different series – and two different states – this past weekend, further proving his NASCAR versatility.
His Memphis and Atlanta wins tightened a championship gap, as Edwards sits second in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. His double duty performance this season is shaping up to be the best in NASCAR history. A driver has finished in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide standings top 10 eight times, the first being Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) in 2001. Edwards, who accomplished the feat in both 2005 and 2007, is a near-lock to do it again.
His ultimate goal, though, is not to finish in the top 10, but to win the championships.
Three races remain for Edwards to close triple-digit deficits to Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Clint Bowyer in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Edwards’ biggest challenge is overtaking two-time defending champion Johnson, who holds a 183-point edge over Edwards.
The comeback is daunting, but not impossible. Edwards can turn to history for hope. The winner of the Atlanta race has followed up with a Texas win in each of the last three seasons. Earlier this season, Edwards made a points gain on Johnson of more than 183 points in three consecutive races. At Richmond, Darlington and Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Edwards scored a combined 454 points. During that stretch, Johnson scored 248 points – a difference of 206 points.
- Tripleheader...Kyle Busch will have a busy weekend at Texas, competing in Friday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series events in addition to Sunday’s Dickies 500.
- Germain Racing Debut...Veteran open-wheel driver Max Papis will attempt to qualify the No. 13 Geico Toyota for Germain Racing this weekend. If successful, it will be the team’s NASCAR Sprint Cup debut. Germain fields teams in NASCAR’s other two national series, and recently announced plans to run 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2009 with Papis.
- Manufacturers Battle On...With three events remaining in the 2008 season, three manufacturers are locked into a race of their own for the annual manufacturers’ title.
Heading into Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas, Chevrolet holds the top spot with 198 points and 10 wins.
Close behind is Toyota, also with 10 wins, and 197 points. Ford is third, with 193 points and nine wins.
Chevrolet, the defending champion, has won six of the last seven manufacturers’ titles, including five straight since 2003.
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