Carl Edwards Wins Rain-Delayed Race at Phoenix


Published on November 7 2016 6:32 am
Last Updated on November 7 2016 6:32 am


Carl Edwards left Phoenix International Raceway nearly a year ago drenching wet and in bewilderment.

He so badly wanted to get the race restarted when the rain fell in the desert, but NASCAR had no choice after the rare deluge. The race was over and Edwards wound up eliminated from Chase contention.

His championship hopes ruined by a storm, he would have waited all night just for that chance to earn the five spots he needed to prove he deserved to make it to Homestead with a shot at the title.

But he won't head to Phoenix next week with the memory of anger or disappointment that rain came at an inopportune time.

Instead, he will go to Arizona with the memory of another rainstorm -- the one on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Leading with 41 laps left in the scheduled 334-lap AAA 500, Edwards celebrated when NASCAR determined it would take at least two hours to dry the track and therefore called the race official. (It took more than five hours for the track to dry from rain that forced the race to go green six hours late.)

Once Edwards knew he was the winner, he broke into a huge smile, and the team roared with cheers.

"This rain was a lot more welcome than that rain [at Phoenix]," Edwards said. "That was very frustrating. But that's the way this sport goes. It's close.

"We have amazing competitors. They make it tough."

With the win, Edwards advanced to be among the four drivers eligible for the championship in two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He will join Jimmie Johnson and two other drivers -- Joey Logano and Kyle Busch have a 1-point lead on Matt Kenseth and two points on Denny Hamlin. Phoenix powerhouse Kevin Harvick likely needs a drop-the-mic moment with a win while sitting 18 points behind. Kurt Busch at 34 points back is in the worst shape of the bunch for a shot to win the title.

"Anything short of a championship will be a disappointment," Edwards said. "We've got a championship-caliber team, parts, people and pit crew. We need to be able to go do it."

Ironically, a crash at Martinsville a week earlier put Edwards in a virtual must-win situation at Texas or Phoenix. The benefit of that crash? Edwards knew he had to stay out when the rains started to fall at Texas and not give up the lead to another driver hoping to steal the win. He needed to roll the dice and hope that the rain would be hard enough to end the race. The easy choice ended up as the right choice.

"When things go bad, sometimes it makes it really simple," Edwards said. "As soon as we had that trouble at Martinsville, the first thing we all said was, 'Hey, we've got to go win Texas. That's what we have to do.'