It’s fitting that a race which began with sprinkles of rain falling in the desert ended with a driver breaking a nearly-two-year winless streak.
The last time Carl Edwards showed up to Phoenix after not winning in the Sprint Cup Series in 70 races, which was the longest losing streak of his career since joining the circuit in 2004, he won.
When the green flag flew for Sunday’s Subway Fresh Fit 500, Edwards had a winless streak of 70 races dating back to the 2011 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Starting up front was ageless Mark Martin who won the pole position on Friday, while Edwards started in fifteenth.
Throughout the race, it seemed to a battle of track position, tire strategy and how well would the tires last as numerous beads on the right-front tires melted throughout the day, sending cars into the wall.
To add to that, it was the first time NASCAR’s new Generation 6 racecar would be put to the test in “typical” race conditions.
As the race went on, through pit strategy and changing track conditions, nine different drivers took their shot at the lead of the race. But one car seemed to have the upper hand towards the end of the race.
Edwards and his No.99 Subway Ford looked to be the car that everyone else was going to have to go through in order to get the win after his pit crew passed the No.88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. who led the race for 47-consecutive laps.
Following a restart with less than 80 laps to go, Edwards was in the lead. However fuel was a question for many of the front runners as they were right on the edge of being able make it to the checkered flag with enough fuel in the tank.
As if trying to preserve fuel and lead a race wasn’t challenging enough, he was being pursued for the win by the cars of Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski as the laps wound down and the white flag drew near.
But when Ken Schrader hit the wall with just three laps to go, everything changed.
Setting up a green-white-checkered finish, Edwards and Johnson shared the front row when the green flag flew with Keselowski all over the bumper of the No.99.
Pushing Edwards into the first turn, Edwards was able clear the rest of the field and cruised to the win at Phoenix International Raceway.
“I just feel good right now. I’m not going to lie, this is unbelievable,” said Edwards in victory lane for the first time since 2011.
“I just can’t say enough about Jimmy Fenning (crew chief). It’s tough to go that long without winning.
“I have to thank [Brad Keselwoski], he pushed me to the start/finish line instead of going three-wide and causing a big wreck down there. He made sure to push me, and got a Ford to victory lane. That means the world.”
Sunday’s win for Edwards was the 20th time he’s visited victory lane in the Sprint Cup Series, and the second time he’s won at Phoenix International Raceway.
“I learned a couple things,” said Edwards about going through a career-tying 70-race winless streak. “Number one, I don’t like racing as much as I thought I did, I like winning.
“It’s though to race hard and have so many resources behind you and have so many people behind you every week and to not run the way you want to run.
“I wasn’t gone, it just seemed like it. I had to live it, man,every week people were like, ‘What’s wrong with you man? What’s happening?’ And, I’m like, guys I am trying as hard as I can so it’s really cool that everyone just keeps pushing forward.”
By winning Sunday’s race, Edwards becomes the first Ford driver to win in a Generation 6 racecar.
Heading into next weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson leads the standings by eight points over Dale Earnhardt Jr and Brad Keselowski.
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Unofficial Results
- Carl Edwards
- Jimmie Johnson
- Denny Hamlin
- Brad Keselowski
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Clint Bowyer
- Matt Kenseth
- Tony Stewart
- Jeff Gordon
- Jeff Burton
- AJ Allmendinger
- Juan Pablo Montoya
- Kevin Harvick
- Casey Mears
- Aric Almirola
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Greg Biffle
- Marcos Ambrose
- Kasey Kahne
- Paul Menard
- Mark Martin
- Jamie McMurray
- Kyle Busch
- Bobby Labonte
- David Reuitmann
- Joey Logano
- Kurt Busch
- JJ Yeley
- Travis Kvapil
- David Stremme
- Joe Nemechek
- Landon Cassill
- Dave Blaney
- Ken Schrader
- Josh Wise
- Martin Truex Jr.
- David Gilliland
- David Ragan
- Danica Patrick
- Ryan Newman
- Scott Speed
- Mike Bliss
- Scott Riggs