Carl Edwards wins at Texas, advances to championship round

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Thanks to help from the weatherman, Carl Edwards punched his ticket into the Sprint Cup championship race in Miami, winning Sunday’s rain-shortened AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Edwards led when rain began to fall, prompting NASCAR to wave the caution flag on Lap 290. Cars continued around the track under caution until Lap 294 when NASCAR summoned cars to pit road.

A few moments later, NASCAR officials ruled the event official — 40 laps shy of its scheduled 334-lap distance — and awarded the win to Edwards, his fourth career Sprint Cup victory at TMS.

“I actually enjoyed it,” Edwards said of the pressure he faced, coming into the race 32 points behind the points leaders, last in the standings. “The pressure was really mounting and obviously this was what we had to do. … We have a shot at the championship, and that’s all we wanted. I can’t wait to go to Homestead. We’re going to have a blast.”

The key to Edwards’ win was an outstanding pit stop on Lap 258. Edwards’ crew made a four-tire and fuel stop in 11.8 seconds, while Truex, who came onto pit road in the lead, had a 12.5-second stop, allowing Edwards to take the lead.

“If we wouldn’t have beat him off pit road, we probably wouldn’t see this,” Edwards said.

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This will be Edwards’ first title chance since he lost the 2011 crown to Tony Stewart in a tiebreaker.

Edwards joins Jimmie Johnson, who won last week at Martinsville, in the championship round.  Two more spots will be filled after next weekend’s race at Phoenix.

Chase driver Joey Logano finished second. He led 178 of the first 188 laps.

“Second stinks,” Logano told NBCSN after the race. “The rain came a little sooner than I wanted to. It would be interesting if we would have had another 10-15 laps, what would have happened, but is what it is.”

Martin Truex Jr., who took over the lead from Logano on Lap 189 after a series of green-flag pit stops, finished third.

Chase Elliott and Chase driver Kyle Busch finished fifth.

Other Chase drivers and where they finished were: Kevin Harvick (6th), Matt Kenseth (7th), Denny Hamlin (9th), Johnson (11th) and Kurt Busch (20th).

As for the Chase standings, Johnson and Edwards are tied, Logano and Kyle Busch are both one point behind. Below the Chase cutoff are Matt Kenseth (-1), Denny Hamlin (-2), Kevin Harvick (-18) and Kurt Busch (-34).

HOW EDWARDS WON: An outstanding pit stop on Lap 258 won it for Edwards, allowing him to overtake Martin Truex Jr. Another key was Edwards maintained consistency and patience throughout the race, hanging around the top-five the majority of the time, until what proved to be his race-winning pit stop.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: While disappointed that he did not win, which would have earned him a spot in the Chase championship race, Joey Logano dominated the first half of the race.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kurt Busch (20th) is last in the Chase grid, 34 points out of first place and 33 points short of the cutoff. He’s essentially in a must-win situation next Sunday at Phoenix. … Pole-sitter Austin Dillon, who was involved in a late-race multi-car crash, finished 37th. Casey Mears was also in the wreck and finished 39th.

NOTABLE: Because of the rain, Edwards did not perform his trademark post-win flip off his race car. “I think I’m going to keep the backflip for Homestead. It’s probably the safe thing to do.” … Harvick, who won the first edition of the new Chase format in 2014 and reached the final round last year, is in jeopardy of not advancing this year. But he’s going to Phoenix – where he has won six of the last eight races.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “That’s all we said we needed was a shot. And now we’re going to go to Homestead and do what we need to do … and I really believe we can do it at Homestead.” – Carl Edwards.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Nov. 13 (2:30 p.m. ET).

 

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Despite crash, Elliott Sadler maintains lead in Xfinity points standings after Charlotte

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Despite finishing 35th because of a late crash, Elliott Sadler maintained his Xfinity Series points lead Saturday after the Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sadler remained six points ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier. Teammate William Byron is ranked third.

With Allgaier and Ryan Reed qualified for the playoffs via victories, provisional playoff spots basesd off points currently belong to Sadler, Byron, Daniel Hemric, Darrell Wallace Jr., Brennan Poole, Matt Tifft, Michael Annett, Blake Koch, Cole Custer and Dakoda Armstrong.

Click here for the Xfinity points standings after Charlotte.

Xfinity Series results and statistics from Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Ryan Blaney scored the fifth Xfinity Series victory of his career and first since September 2015, winning the Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney seized the lead from runner-up Kevin Harvick on a restart with three laps remaining.

Austin Dillon, Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Blaney led a race-high 107 of 200 laps.

Click here for full results from Saturday’s Xfinity race at Charlotte.

Ryan Blaney wins Charlotte Xfinity race for first victory in series since September 2015

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney won Saturday’s Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney took the lead from Kevin Harvick on a restart with three laps to go.

It’s his fifth Xfinity Series win and the first for Team Penske in 2017. It’s Blaney’s first Xfinity victory since Sept. 26, 2015 at Kentucky Speedway.

Blaney was followed by Harvick, Austin Dillon, Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin.

“I thought we were going to run out of laps to make it happen,” Blaney said, who was aided by a series of rapid cautions in the closing laps.

“We got a good restart and I was able to barely stay on (Harvick’s) quarter (panel) off of (Turn) 2 and dragged him back into (Turn) 3,” Blaney told Fox Sports 1. “I’m very proud, but you’re going to feel really bad if you mess up and don’t win. That’s what I thought was going to happen. I didn’t know if we were going to get our shot to get back to the lead. I don’t want to say the caution went our way because we kind of needed long runs. But they worked out so we could put ourselves in a position to  capitalize on it.”

Driving the No. 12 Ford, Blaney led four times for 107 laps on the way to the victory. Blaney raced to the front after starting from the rear for unapproved adjustments. He is the first driver to win after going to the rear since Marcos Ambrose at Montreal in 2011.

Blaney’s win comes 11 year after his father, Dave Blaney, won the fall Xfinity race at Charlotte. They are the first father-son duo to win at Charlotte in the Xfinity Series.

Stage 1 winner: Kevin Harvick

Stage 2 winner: Ryan Blaney

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: On the third lap of his Xfinity career, Christopher Bell was turned by Ryan Reed on the frontstretch and slid through the grass. He continued on and battled back to finish fourth. …. Brennan Poole brought out a caution with 42 to go after he got into the frontstretch wall, but managed to finish eighth. … Brad Keselowski finished sixth after starting 39th. He started there after multiple trips through inspection kept him from making a qualifying run. … Brendan Gaughan finished ninth after he spun exiting Turn 4 late in the race.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Michael Annett’s day ended with 25 to go when he got into the wall on a restart and went to the garage. He finished 36th …. On the next restart, points leader Elliott Sadler spun in Turn 4 and hit the inside wall hard. He was uninjured and finished 35th … Darrell Wallace Jr. was having his best race of the year, including leading three laps in the final stage, when it came unraveled. He brushed the Turn 4 wall with seven laps to go. He then lost a tire and spun in Turn 2. He finished 28th.

NOTABLE: Not counting the end of each stage, the race was slowed by 10 cautions.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Give him a sponsor, man. He passed me on a restart and drove away from me. It was awesome.” – Ryan Blaney on his battle for the lead with Darrell Wallace Jr. at the start of the final stage.

WHAT’S NEXT: OneMain Financial 200 at Dover International Speedway at 1 p.m. ET on June 2 on Fox Sports 1.

Kyle Larson fastest in final practice for Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kyle Larson topped the final practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 with a speed at 186.400 mph.

The Cup points leader, Larson will start 39th in the race because his No. 42 Chevrolet didn’t clear inspection in time to qualify.

Ryan Blaney (185.861), Matt Kenseth (185.046), Kurt Busch (184.856) and Erik Jones (184.818) rounded out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seventh fastest at 184.433 mph. Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was 20th fastest at 182.648 mph.

Jimmie Johnson recorded the most laps in the session with 47.

Jamie McMurray had the best 10-lap average at 180.914 mph.

The session was stopped for a caution once after Brad Keselowski spun exiting Turn 4.

Click here for the full practice report.