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
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
Carl Edwards celebrates his first NSCS win with Joe Gibbs Racing and snapping a 31-race winless streak.
Driver suffered from a migraine and nausea during Coca-Cola 600 CONCORD, N.C. -- Denny Hamlin made a brief appearance in the media center long after the conclusion of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Eighth-place finishers don’t normally do that. Neither do drivers who go straight from pit road to the infield medical center. Hamlin dropped by only long enough to offer congratulations to race-winner Carl Edwards , crew chief Darian Grubb (his former pit caller) and team owner Joe Gibbs. He was, however, on his feet, and that was a bonus considering his physical state when he first climbed from his car. Suffering from a migraine headache, Hamlin sat down next to his car on pit road with head in his hands. He eventually got up and took a few uncertain steps before team personnel stepped in to assist. He was transported to the infield care center moments later. “My off day was 36 holes of golf and a full tennis match,” Hamlin said afterward. “Probably overdid it a little bit this weekend. I think the dehydration led to a migraine and I just felt nauseous the last 100 laps or so. Thank goodness that didn’t cost us the win. “Just the bad end of that strategy … but still proud of our team for really giving me a car that could contend for a win." Although he led twice for 53 laps in Sunday’s 400-lap race, and was out front with less than 40 laps remaining, a vibration sent the No. 11 Toyota to pit road under green. From there, separate pit-stop strategies kept the 34-year-old playing catch-up. Prior to the stop, he and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) appeared to have the cars to beat. “That part of it stunk a little bit, but the 78 (Truex) came back and passed us anyway. When he came back out, he had fresher air … I came out kind of middle of the pack and just couldn’t run the lap times I needed to.” This year’s winner at Martinsville, Hamlin said he felt better after the trip to the care center. “You just try to power through it and of course when you run well, you always feel a little bit better,” he said, “but when the race is over and everything comes to a stop, you realize how bad you feel.” FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
JGR driver: 'It's always been a tough place to pass' SPEEDWAY, Ind. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers don’t run wide-open around Indianapolis Motor Speedway , but there’s very little "off-throttle" time, according to Carl Edwards . That makes passing difficult. The 2015 rules package (lower horsepower, less downforce) thus far hasn't helped. Edwards was one of 12 drivers taking part in an open test at the legendary 2.5-mile speedway Wednesday. The series returns to Indianapolis July 24-26 for the annual Crown Royal Presents the 'Your Hero's Name Here' 400 at the Brickyard. "We haven't figured out exactly where we’re going to set up the car so that we can pass," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said during a break at IMS. "There is a lot of on-throttle time. We're very fast through the middle of the corner; we're coming off the corner at 190 mph earlier today … now it’s 183-184. "When you're literally coming on to the straightaway at 185 or 190 mph, there's just not a lot of change between your high speed and your low speed, there's not a lot of off-throttle time. So it becomes very important to find the places on the track where you can gain an advantage and it gets really tough." NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series teams have been racing at Indy since 1994, and drivers have always had a tough time finding passing opportunities on the fast, flat track. The annual Brickyard 400 has seen as many as 26 lead changes (due to tire problems in 2008) and as few as nine (on three occasions). There's yet to be a last-lap pass in the 400, although five times the race winner has taken the lead with 10 or fewer laps remaining. "Because of the speeds here and the way the track's laid out, it's always been a tough place to pass," Edwards said. "I think that's one of the challenges … you have to come here and you have to deal with it. "But really, the short chutes (between Turns 1-2 and 3-4) are really interesting. The way you drive into those corners, the way you set your car up into (Turn) 1 and into 3 so that you can run to that short chute and set up your exit onto the long straightaways, if you can beat a guy there and get to him and force the issue, that's where I've done the little bit of passing that I've done; that's where the guys that have passed me have passed me." Edwards has 10 career starts at Indy, with a best finish of second in 2008. "Once you get on these long straightaways (and) you're wide open, it becomes a dyno race, whose got the most power," he said. "If you can handle well through that sharp, quick corner, and you can carry and extra mile an hour or two onto the straightaway, that's golden. … "The mid-corner speed, middle of the race when it’s hot, having that car handle well I think is the most important thing. And it's the only thing that can change during the event so that's what we focus on." Four teams, those for drivers Jeff Gordon ( Hendrick Motorsports ), Sam Hornish Jr . ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), J.J. Yeley ( BK Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) took part in a Goodyear tire test at IMS Monday and Tuesday. The Furniture Row team departed after Tuesday's session. In addition to Edwards, joining Gordon, Hornish and Yeley for Wednesday's test were the teams of Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ), Casey Mears ( Germain Racing ), Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ) and Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ). NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series travels to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for Sunday's GEICO 500 (FOX, 1 p.m. ET). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Feeling strong after 600 miles bodes well for No. 18 driver SHOP: 'Rowdy Returns' shirt, more Busch gear CONCORD, N.C. -- As NASCAR's greatest endurance test, Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 also provided a good litmus test for Kyle Busch in his first points race since suffering leg and foot injuries in the XFINITY Series opener at Daytona International Speedway . And with the exception of some left foot soreness, Busch said he came through with flying colors in the annual Memorial Day weekend contest. However, he joked that he needed about 10 more laps to improve on his 11th-place finish. Fuel-mileage strategy came into play late in the race, and despite Busch having a strong No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, he wasn't able to finish higher because the drivers in front of him who gambled didn't run out of gas. Still, the fact he completed all 400 laps and didn't need to go to backup driver Erik Jones was a step in the right direction. "I'm a little surprised that I feel as good as I do, you know," Busch said afterward. "I was expecting to be a little bit more beat up and tired, but honestly, I'm not. ... There could be two sides to that. If you go week-to-week-to-week you could grind yourself out and you get tired, whereas I just took a three‑month vacation. My body feels pretty good, and it's only been beat up in the gym." But all those leg lifts, squats and presses were controlled movements, whereas a 600-mile Sprint Cup Series race is anything but that. So for Busch not only to survive the rigors of the race but also show he could race well was a good sign for his Chase for the Sprint Cup chances. Busch needs to finish in the top 30 in the point standings and get a win to compete in the playoffs come the fall. MORE: Timeline of Kyle Busch 's injury and recovery There were some highlights from Sunday that indicated if Busch does get to the playoffs, he'll be a tough out. First, it didn't take him long (116 laps) to move from a starting spot of 17th all the way up to sixth. Then, after 300 laps, Busch was in second place behind Martin Truex Jr . "All in all, I felt like that was a great race for us," Busch said. "We ran really strong. We ran up front, and we showed we had some speed. You know, it certainly is frustrating to finish where we did. That's disappointing. But sometimes you do win these things by fuel‑mileage races, so congratulations to our teammates, Carl (Edwards) and Matt (Kenseth)." Now that Busch passed his first big test it's on to Dover International Speedway and the rest of the season, where Busch will need to prove he can perform like this repeatedly. Despite being 200 miles shorter, Dover won't be easy, said Busch. "This race here is quite relative to Dover next week," Busch said. "This week is an endurance race for as long as it is, and I think it sets you up for that Dover race. The Dover race is more taxing on your body I feel like; it beats you up a little more." In order to prepare, Busch will take Monday off to rest and get some fluids back into his system. He said he has a doctor appointment on Tuesday along with meetings at JGR. Then on Wednesday, he'll do balancing exercises before hitting it hard in a workout on Thursday before heading to Dover. That's the recipe that helped him come back relatively quickly from the serious injuries, and he's sticking to it. Whether he's able to continue to confound the skeptics remains to be seen. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Led race-high 131 laps but finishes fifth due to fuel mileage gambles of others RELATED: Full race results " Latest Chase Grid standings CONCORD, N.C. – Same song, different verse. For the second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race, Martin Truex Jr . led the most laps. And for the second consecutive points race, leading the most laps didn't result in a trip to Victory Lane. "It's a double-edged sword," the Furniture Row Racing driver said after finishing fifth in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "It feels great to run that good again and I feel like we're going to get one but I also know how hard it is to be in that position, how hard it is to get race cars like this to put yourself in position to win. It's so competitive out here. "There's no telling how long it's going to be again, it might be next week, it might be a year from now. I don't know. It's frustrating, but it's also awesome. It hurts, but it's awesome." Two weeks ago in Kansas, Truex led 95 laps before a late stop for fuel only – hold the tires – proved to be the No. 78 team's undoing. At Charlotte in the series' longest race, the Mayetta, New Jersey native paced the field for 131 of 400 laps, giving up the lead on Lap 379 when he ducked onto pit road for a final stop. Others, including Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle , had stopped during the night's eight and final caution, at Lap 338, and chose to conserve fuel and hope for the best. Edwards won; Biffle finished second. "As far as I knew, all I had to do was catch and pass the 11 (of Denny Hamlin )," Truex said. "I didn't even know anyone could make it (without stopping). I didn't know there was anything else going on other than racing the 11. … "Once I caught him they told me there's some guys that might make it on gas. There's nothing you can do as a driver but go as hard as you can go and that's what I did." Knowing others were saving fuel and wouldn't be stopping wouldn't have mattered. "It would have just pissed me off even earlier," he said. Crew chief Cole Pearn could only shrug his shoulders afterward. "You can only run that harebrained strategy when you're back there … that's what’s so silly about it," he said of the outcome. "What do you do? A lot of times the fastest car doesn't get it done. Really for us to try and pull the strategy the 19 (of Edwards) pulled would be kind of insane … it's the way it works out. "When you're running hard you're obviously getting worse mileage because you're in the gas more. When you're running around 15th … I don't know, maybe we need to give that a try." That's not likely. If anything, the result only made Pearn that much more intent on continuing to put his driver out front. Monday might be a holiday, but Pearn said he was "ready to go to work at 6 a.m. … Work all day and kick their ass next week." Truex finished 29th at Bristol, the only time in 12 starts this season he's finished outside of the top 10. A two-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series, it's been a resurrection of sorts for the 34-year-old this season. While he may feel a bit snake-bitten, he's too busy looking at the positives to let another missed opportunity drag him or his team down. Cursed? "A little bit," he said. "But at the same time blessed to be doing what I'm doing. To have an opportunity to run up front like this, I know what it's like to be on the other side of that and I don't take that for granted. "I've got a lot to be thankful for and we're going to get us a win soon; we're going to dig hard and keep pushing forward and we'll get one." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
See the top five moments from the Coca-Cola 600 weekend as NASCAR salutes the military and Austin Dillon and Carl Edwards bring home big wins.
Matthew Dillner and Chuck Bush stroll through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway as teams prep for the Hisense 300 and a chance to battle in the Dash 4 Cash.
Ballast violation found in Iowa Speedway inspection