RICHMOND, Virginia: Carl Edwards bumped team-mate Kyle Busch off his racing line in the last turn and passed him to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
Edwards, who had fallen nearly 1.5 seconds behind his Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate after a restart with 36 laps to go, gradually ran him down until the final lap. Then he slipped underneath Busch, a master blocker in late-race situations, and nudged him just enough to allow Edwards to take the lead coming out of the fourth turn for his second consecutive victory. It was also the fourth in a row for the Gibbs stable, and fifth in nine races.
Jimmie Johnson finished third, follow by Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Kasey Kahne and pole-sitter Kevin Harvick.
“We did everything right — be smart,” Busch was told on his radio, after Edwards moved the No. 18 Toyota up the track in Turns 3 and 4 and beat Busch to the finish line by 0.675 second.
Busch took the advice. No doubt seething inside at the loss of a race he seemed poised to win, he maintained radio silence.
With a superb pit stop under the eighth and final caution of the race, Busch grabbed the lead for a restart on Lap 365 of 400. He stayed out front until Edwards made up enormous ground by burying his No. 19 Camry into Turn 1 on the final lap.
Edwards applied the coup de grace in the next corner, nudging Busch out of the way to complete the first last-lap pass for the win in the history of the 0.75-mile (1.2-kilometer) track.
Edwards indicated he was willing to take more liberties with his team-mate because they had both scored victories this season and are locks to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“Kyle’s an amazing team-mate, and it’s like he got really slow there at the end,” Edwards said in Victory Lane. “Something happened that last lap. It was like his rear tires went off or something. He went down into [Turn] 1 and I dove it in and I got to him and I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got something.’”
“And he went to get down to the bottom and park it in [Turns] 3 and 4, and I had already decided to go down there, so I thought, ‘Man, I’m going to give him a little nudge.’ And we both have got wins, and we’re racing for fun getting these trophies and [it was]just an awesome day,” Edwards added.
Asked whether he expected Edwards to use the bump-and-run for the win, Busch repeated a rote answer he had given to the previous question.
“Our Banfield Camry was real awesome today,” Busch said. “We had a great race car. My guys made some awesome adjustments to it. It was really good for us to have an opportunity to run and race for the win like that.”
TNS WITH REPORT FROM NASCAR.COM