By admin | March 2, 2008
Edwards makes Vegas his playground
By Richard Allen
Carl Edwards had a great time in Las Vegas and he did not even have to drop a dime into a slot machine. The Missouri driver picked up where he left off on Monday in California by winning the UAW-Dodge 400.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway proved to be quite a handful for drivers during the opening laps of the race. High winds blew sand and debris all over the racing surface causing slick conditions which forced numerous cars to slip and slide, especially those who chose to run in the high groove.On lap 9 the track conditions created the first caution flag of the day as Kasey Kahne bobbled in Turn 4 and forced Jamie McMurray to take a wild ride through the grass. Turn 4 had already claimed numerous victims during practice and qualifying leading up to the event.
After going through a cycle of green flag pit stops the field was strung out all over the track for several laps. A debris caution brought everyone back together and the racing got interesting for a while as teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin staged a side by side duel at the front of the field which bunched the cars for a while. Busch was leading at the time and Hamlin was fighting to stay on the lead lap.
The race’s third caution came out when Tony Stewart’s Toyota slammed hard into the Turn 3 wall. The #20 car appeared to blow a tire as it entered the turn. Stewart had to be assisted from his battered machine. “I hurt from the hips down,” Stewart said. “That’s the hardest one I’ve had in a long time.”
After the lap 115 restart Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon staged a furious battle at the front of the field which was decided as Kenseth took the lead on lap 117 and pulled away until a caution for Robby Gordon’s blown tire and crash again brought the field together.
During the middle stretches of the event the race turned into a pit stop contest as the first car off of pit road seemed to lead until the next caution. The Car of Tomorrow offered up more of the same old same old as clean air seemed to be all important as a high speed game of follow the leader took place at the front of the field.
To show how important clean air seemed to be, Kyle Busch looked like a serious threat to win early in the race. He then seemingly disappeared as he fell back into traffic and lost track position.
A debris caution with 50 laps to go set up a spirited race for the lead between teammates Kenseth and Edwards. The #99 car emerged from that battle with the lead. However, a rash of yellow fever kept bunching the field in the race’s closing stages.
Junior Nation got a chance to rise and cheer when their hero, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., moved into second place after passing Kenseth with 14 laps remaining.
The drama really began when Kurt Busch blew a tire and crashed into the Turn 4 wall with 11 laps to go. On the ensuing restart Earnhardt appeared to spin his tires as the cars came up to speed. Gordon and Kenseth attempted to split Junior but wound up getting into each other coming off of Turn 2. Gordon got the worst end of that deal when his car slid hard into the inside wall.
A red flag was brought out so that the track could be cleared of debris which then set up a green-white-checkered finish.
On the race’s final restart Edwards pulled away and left Junior to battle Greg Biffle for second place.
Junior bemoaned the fact that there were so many cautions in the race’s late stages. “This is really frustrating,” he said. “I would’ve liked to had a shot at Carl with hotter tires.”
“This has been an amazing couple of weeks,” Edwards declared in victory lane after performing another successful back flip.
The Top 10:
1. Carl Edwards
2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
3. Greg Biffle
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Jeff Burton
6. David Ragan
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Travis Kvapil
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Mark Martin
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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