Ride along with Carl Edwards as he grabs his first win of the 2015 season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Victory is first for Edwards with Joe Gibbs Racing SHOP: Edwards gear " RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. – Will the mystery winner of Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 enter and sign in please? Hint: It's the guy who does back flips every time he takes the checkered flag. But for the first 370 of 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway , no one would have picked Carl Edwards or his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as the likely winner of the season's 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Martin Truex Jr ., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin had spent the lion's share of time at the head of the field, but none of that mattered when Edwards got 62 laps out of his last tank of fuel and took the checkered flag 4.785 seconds ahead of Greg Biffle , who also was on a fuel-saving strategy. In fact, the top four finishers all stretched their gas mileage after pit stops under caution on Lap 337. Dale Earnhardt Jr . ran third, followed by polesitter Matt Kenseth and Truex, who led a race-high 131 laps. Ryan Newman , Brad Keselowski , Hamlin (53 laps led), Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch (118 laps led) completed the top 10. Kyle Busch came home 11th in his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race of the season, after missing the first 11 races of the season because of injuries sustained Feb. 21 at Daytona. The victory was Edwards first of the season, his first for Joe Gibbs Racing , his first at Charlotte and the 24th of his career. "It's so cool to get this win—we've had such bad luck," said Edwards , who joined Joe Gibbs Racing as the organization's fourth Sprint Cup driver after the 2014 season. "And we were the slowest of the (JGR cars) tonight, but we had (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) on the box. He made the right call, he put us in a position to win, and it worked. ... "This is truly a gift. I took advantage of it to win, and we'll get better." In all likelihood, the victory will propel Edwards into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . It was also Toyota’s 300th national series victory in the manufacturer's 300th Sprint Cup start. But after the very early stages of the race, Edwards wasn't a factor until fuel strategy came into play in the closing laps. Soon after Jimmie Johnson spun off Turn 4 on Lap 90 to cause the second caution of the afternoon, the race evolved into a two-car contest between the Chevrolets of Kurt Busch and Truex. Within two laps of a restart on Lap 95, Busch drove from ninth to the lead, passing Joey Logano for the top spot on Lap 97. From that point, Busch and Truex swapped stints at the head of the field, and by the time Johnson spun off Turn 4 and smacked the inside wall on Lap 273 to bring out the caution flag for the fifth time, Busch had racked up 118 laps led and Truex 59. But another quick yellow flag on Lap 282 for Ryan Blaney 's blown engine created the opportunity for divergent strategies and scrambled the running order. Truex was one of nine drivers who stayed out under the caution, but both Harvick and Kurt Busch came to pit road for fresh rubber and restarted 10th and 11th, respectively, on Lap 292. Gradually, methodically, Harvick and Kurt Busch drove back toward the front, but the contrarian strategies introduced another major player into the mix. Denny Hamlin surged to the front of the field and led 53 laps before pitting with a loose wheel on Lap 363 and giving up the lead. That put Truex back in front, with Harvick chasing, and both drivers needing one more pit stop to get to the end of the race. Edwards , Biffle, Earnhardt and Kenseth, on the other hand, stopped with 62 laps left, and the decision to come to pit road and gamble on fuel proved decisive—and stole a victory from Truex's dominant car. Biffle put pressure on Edwards in the closing laps, until he momentarily lost fuel pressure with two circuits left. "Running where we were running, it gave us the opportunity to try and stretch the fuel window and make it," Biffle said. "I was putting a lot of pressure on Carl there. I started going with about 10 laps to go. The crew chief (Matt Puccia) told me 'Save all you can, just stay in front of the 88 (Earnhardt),' and I made a decision that I was going to try and beat Carl . I got pretty close to him there, and then with two to go, the fuel light came on that the fuel pressure was low, and so I came around and had to start pushing the clutch in and shutting it off and coasting and try and preserve what fuel I had to make it back. "So excited to see the checkered flag. I wasn't sure I was going to stretch two laps of gas out of it. But it was probably on the straightaway it sucked some air and started flashing the fuel pressure. I was able to run it around the corners and didn't have any more issues, but stayed in front of the 88, finished second, big boost for the team, but probably a bigger boost for the team was how we ran tonight on the race track.” If Biffle had mixed feelings about finishing second, Truex was disconsolate. "Hell, I didn't even know guys could make it on gas," Truex said. I didn't know what was going on. Just can't catch a break there. I'm proud of the guys for an awesome race car. All my guys in Denver (where Furniture Row Racing is based) are putting a great car together. I don't know what to do about that. "We had a great car. Had a chance at it and it stinks to come up short like that on fuel mileage. I've never once in my whole career gained positions on a fuel mileage deal. I don't know what I have to do to catch a break on them deals. It is what it is. Just proud of my guys for what they brought--we will get one." Note: Late in the race, Hamlin reported feeling ill in his car and complained of a severe headache. He was taken to the infield care center after the race, and team owner Joe Gibbs said his driver was dehydrated, was given an IV and was feeling better after the treatment. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Carl Edwards celebrates his first NSCS win with Joe Gibbs Racing and snapping a 31-race winless streak.
Jon Housholder recaps the Coca-Cola 600 where Carl Edwards captured his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing, in what became a fuel mileage race to the checkers.
NASCAR.com's Jonathon Merryman talks to Carl Edwards about his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2015 season in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Carl Edwards wins the Coca-Cola 600 to get his 24th career NSCS victory, ending a 31-race winless streak.
Carl Edwards gives the back-story on the military veteran’s sticker that appeared on the No.19 car for his Coca-Cola 600 win.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson, Kahne rounded out top three Related: Practice 1 results Carl Edwards soared to the top of the leaderboard late in Thursday's opening practice for the Coca-Cola 600 (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway , propelling his No. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 ride at 192.273 mph to snag the premier spot. Reigning Coca-Cola 600 champion Jimmie Johnson -- one of the first to head onto the track for practice -- sat on top of the leaderboard for most the the afternoon, with a high speed of 191.673 mph. He settled into the second-place slot after Edwards' late run knocked him off the top position. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne came up third-fastest in the field with a high speed of 191.639 mph. Kahne was also one of the first drivers to wheel his No. 5 ride onto the track for practice. Rounding out the top five were 2014 Sprint Cup champion and Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kevin Harvick (191.442 mph) and Michael Waltrip Rac ing 's David Ragan (191.435 mph). Following his 11-race absense from Sprint Cup racing, Kyle Busch returned to the race track last weekend for the Sprint All-Star Race and will be making his first Cup start in a points race this season at Charlotte. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver posted the 21st-fastest speed (190.081 mph) in his No. 18 Toyota during opening practice. Making his third Sprint Cup start this weekend, part-time Hendrick Motorsports rookie Chase Elliott posted the 27th-fastest time in the field, wheeling his No. 25 car at 189.142 mph. The current XFINITY champion will compete in the series' Hisense 300 on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track at 7:15 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying with coverage on FOX Sports 1. SHOP: Carl Edwards gear FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Crew chiefs, drivers discuss tire used at Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams continue to wrestle with a 2015 rules package for intermediate tracks, one that was expected to enhance passing but thus far has provided mixed results. It's early, one-third of the way through the 36-race schedule, and teams will no doubt make gains as the season wears on. But it wasn't the rules package that concerned Rodney Childers following Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I'll say it in the nicest way possible, but they have completely ruined Charlotte Motor Speedway with changing tires," said Childers, crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet with defending series champion Kevin Harvick . "You just can't race anybody and whoever was in front was just (staying) in front. You ride around 600 miles and can't pass a soul." This year's tire of choice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte included a right-side tire that featured the multi-zone technology first used two years ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The inside two inches was the same compound run at Texas this season while the outer portion was the same used at CMS last year. Goodyear officials held two Charlotte tests, last December and in March of this year, to determine the tire selection. Tires using similar multi-zone technology have also been used at Richmond. Childers said the multi-zone tire has adversely affected the competition at Richmond and Texas as well. "It's so aggravating," he said. Harvick finished ninth Sunday night, the 11th top-10 of the year for the series points leader and winner of two races thus far this season. Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) won Sunday's race thanks in part to better fuel mileage in his No. 19 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who finished third-place, spoke about the multi-zone tires after the All-Star race on his weekly "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. "We've (run) it before at other tracks with sort of mixed results as far as how much we actually like the tire, how good the tire feels how good the tire drives," Earnhardt said. "I don't know … I didn't really like it that much this past race. "(The tire) is just really hard on that inside edge and as you might have seen in the All-Star Race when a lot of us tried to run the top we just were so loose and spinning out and getting into the fence, having a lot of trouble with that. So that tire really took away the top groove, I felt. I couldn't get up there and make much time." In spite of "mixed results at other tracks," Earnhardt said the tire does have at least one thing going for it. "It is safer, so you can't complain about that," he said. While there were nine lead changes in the first 100 laps of the 400-lap race, four came during an early competition caution and a later round of green-flag pit stops. The 22 lead changes for the race were the fewest (in a full 600-mile event) since 2004. "I'm happy for Carl and I'm happy for Darian (Grubb, crew chief)," said Childers. "They did what they needed to do to win the race and that's the end of the story. "More just disappointed in what we've got going on lately. We've got to work together and get the right tires on these things and make them where we can race each other. If you can't race, you're not going to put on a good show. That's just the way it is right now." Grubb said the use of the multi-zone tire gives teams "a little bit more of a margin of durability." "This used to be one of the tracks we'd come to and we'd be really nervous," he said, "especially if the rain came or something (and) the track got green. There's no way you can make a fuel run on the first set or two. You'd end up with cords on the outside and the inside of the tire." The multi-zone tire has made inside wear a non-issue. Grubb said his team saw no signs of distress on his team's tires. "So I think they've got the combination right for durability," he said. "It does give up a little bit of grip versus what the old tire did, but we'll pay that price to have some consistency and durability." Speaking of tires … Teams competing in this weekend's Camping World Truck , XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway will have a new left-side tire. The code is the same as what was run at Texas ( Sprint Cup and XFINITY ) earlier this year. It was also used at Texas, Chicago, Darlington and Homestead last season. Long race, few penalties For only the fourth time this season, fewer than 20 penalties were handed down during a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with 19 being doled out in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 . The most common infractions were pitting before pit road was open (six) and excessive speed entering/exiting (four). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Runner-up showing at Charlotte is first top five of season for the No. 16 Ford RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings CONCORD, N.C. -- It's been a while since Greg Biffle has felt like this -- according to him, about a year. But the driver of the Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford was pleased, albeit in a bittersweet way, with his second-place finish in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Biffle netted his first top five of the season in what he said has been a well-documented slow start for him and his RFR teammates. So forgive Biffle if he felt like the monkey was finally off his back -- even if it meant losing to former teammate Carl Edwards in the process. "It's kind of funny because I decided if I finished in the top 10 tonight I was gonna stand on the door top and be all excited and cheer," Biffle said, "and I finished second and I'm not happy. The thing is we ran in the top 10 all night. The car was good and had a lot of speed. That was a huge improvement." Improvement was good for a driver with an average finish of 20.5 in 2015, his worst mark since becoming a full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series in 2003. To get Biffle's last top-five finish, you'd have to go back to the 2014 GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway . And in the 26 races between Pocono and Charlotte, Biffle managed only six top-10 finishes. Sunday was a bit of the old Biffle, the driver who has won 19 times on the premier level. He even showed some spunk while engaging in a fuel-mileage battle with Edwards in the final laps. "You know, I was putting a lot of pressure on Carl there," Biffle said. "I started going with about 10 laps to go. The crew chief (Matt Puccia) told me 'save all you can, just stay in front of the 88,' and I made a decision that I was going to try to beat Carl ." With two laps to go, the fuel light came on indicating the fuel pressure was low, so Biffle said he had to preserve the rest of way. Luckily for Biffle, his desire to beat Carl didn't come back to haunt him. "Yeah, well, we knew that Carl was going to try and make it, and certainly nobody knows whether you've got enough gas," Biffle said. "I was sure hoping and praying that he would be about a lap short because, you know, we've lost a few -- everybody has lost a few -- like that." As far as whether Sunday's showing proved that the slow start was behind him, Biffle refused to go that far. But he was feeling optimistic about the road ahead. "I've got a couple of trophies from (Dover)," Biffle said. "We run good there. ... You know Michigan is kind of -- I've got it circled now on my calendar -- because if we've got speed on these kind of tracks back again, that's a good race track for us. So we'll see how we stack up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule