Carl Edwards dominates Bristol
Carl Edwards celebrates his Food City 500 win at Bristol Motor Speedway on Feb. 17, 2016 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).
By AMANDA VINCENT
Carl Edwards claimed his first win of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season on Sunday with his victory of the Food City 500 at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. The win was the fourth of his career at Bristol.
“Just awesome,” Edwards said. “This is a real testament to my team. The guys have been working really hard. We’ve got Comcast Business folks here, and they helped put this whole thing together with ARRIS and Toyota, TRD, Stanley — all the folks that made this 19 team happen. Just great and so awesome. Thanks to Sprint and Cessna and all the folks that make this happen. Now we’re in the Chase, and we can go have some fun. Just so cool; awesome to be here.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch traded the second position back-and-forth in the closing laps before Earnhardt prevailed for runner-up honors, despite starting the race two laps down when he had an issue getting his car up to speed at the initial green flag.
“We had a dead battery at the start of the race — something bad like that. Same thing, I think happened to the No. 22 (Joey Logano). That cost us two laps early in the race, and we worked real hard. Greg (Ives, crew chief) did a great job helping us get our laps back. The car was about a 15th or 10th-place car. We were just lucky on those restarts as to where we lined up. And that really helped us.”
Chase Elliott finished fourth after also going two laps down because of a loose wheel. Local driver Trevor Bayne rounded out the top-five.
Edwards led over half the race, running up front for 276 laps of the 500-lap race. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Matt Kenseth, also led significant laps, running up front for 142 laps in the first half of the race before two separate right-front tire problems resulted in twice hitting the wall.
“We just keep blowing right-front tires,” Kenseth said. “I don’t know why. The first one was a little confusing. I knew I blew a right-front, but I thought they were telling me it wasn’t flat, so I was a little confused. This one just blew a lot earlier and the angle was a lot worse hitting the wall. We really weren’t very tight; our Dollar General Camry was pretty fast today. I was encouraged, again, today, even though we don’t have the result.”
Edwards was the only driver from the four-car JGR stable who escaped right-front tire problems. Kyle Busch suffered three tire problems that resulted in three separate cautions and also served two pit-road speeding penalties before finally winding up in the garage.
Denny Hamlin also had problems that started with significant damage on pit road in the early-going to a wreck from a tire issue in the final 100 laps of the race.
Matt DiBenedetto claimed his first-career top-10 by finishing sixth. Kevin Harvick was seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth, Ryan Newman ninth, and Joey Logano finished 10th.