Carl Edwards was there at the end, winning a grueling Southern 500 on Sunday night at Darlington Raceway.
Edwards overcame a track-record 18 cautions and got a huge boost from his pit crew to win for a second time this season.
Edwards was running in third place when Jeb Burton spun on Lap 354. He came out of the pits first, however, then held off pole-winner Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin for the victory.
Keselowski probably had the race’s dominant car, leading 196 of 376 laps. But he wasn’t as quick coming out of the pits as Edwards, and that cost him.
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The 18 cautions broke the record of 17 set in 2009, when Mark Martin won. Eighty-nine of 367 laps were run under a yellow flag.
Edwards went into the pits in third place after a late-race caution and, following a top-notch job by his pit crew, came out in first. That was all he needed to win the race.
Three who mattered
Carl Edwards: Got his second victory of the season (the other coming in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway); keeps Joe Gibbs Racing’s hot streak (eight victories in 14 races) very much alive. He’s also joined teammates Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch as a Southern 500 winner.
Brad Keselowski: Started first, finished second. Led a race-high 196 laps but couldn’t close the deal on the final caution and restart.
Kyle Busch: Finished seventh, but clinched a spot in the Chase. He’ll finish inside the top 30 and has four victories -- all after missing the season’s first 11 races due to injuries suffered at Daytona in February.
▪ Ever wonder how important the work of a pit crew is? The work put in on that last pit stop by Carl Edwards’ No. 19 crew made all the difference in the race.
▪ The race’s record-setting 18 cautions made for a long night. It lasted 4 hours, 34 minutes, ending around midnight.
▪ Of all the “throwback” ideas for Sunday’s race, none was better than having Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett and Dale Jarrett call a portion of the action in the NBC booth.
They said it
“I don’t think I can get in trouble for saying how much I like it.” – Edwards, on the low-drag aero package used at Darlington.
Three tweets from Saturday’s race:
Federated Auto Parts 400
Where: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday.
TV: NBC Sports Network.
Radio: Motor Racing Network.