The top 5 drivers along with an upset Dale Earnhardt Jr. give post-race comments.
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
Drives 562.5 miles of Coca-Cola 600, runs 14 more to NASCAR Hall of Fame CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Landon Cassill wiped the sweat from his brow at the end of a 14-mile run to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, twisted the cap to his beverage and readied to take a swig of … Coors Light? That may have been the only hydration mistake the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver made in his Herculean day (and night) Sunday (and Monday), and even then it was hard to fault the Hillman Smith Motorsports driver. He'd earned it. Cassill completed a double of his own on racing's busiest day, driving the No. 40 Chevrolet in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, then turning around and jogging through the night to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. That journey of 13.92 miles took 1 hour, 41 minutes and 49 seconds -- a pace of 7 minutes, 19 seconds per mile -- and ended at 12:58 a.m. on Memorial Day. Cassill accepted a hug and kiss from his wife, Kaitlan, rubbed his dog, Indie, and thanked those who came out to watch the end of his run -- a group that included some of his crew members, as well as team owner Mike Hillman. "It was definitely a mental challenge," Cassill said outside the Hall of Fame, which was lit up in red and neatly contrasted the blaring blue lights from the police vehicles that served as his escorts. "I had to talk to myself a little bit more the last two miles, because it was all uphill. It wasn't a matter of making it to the end, it was continuing to hold the pace I was holding. You don't want to let yourself slow down. "It was a great night." All told, it was a 576.42-mile evening for the 25-year-old driver, who completed 375 laps (out of 400 ) at Charlotte, then stretched in the garage before starting his run. @landoncassill stretching out before his 14 mile run from @CLTMotorSpdwy to #NASCARHall #Landon614 #SnapNation pic.twitter.com/TCi1kWSnOI — NASCAR Hall of Fame (@NASCARHall) May 25, 2015 It wasn't difficult for Cassill to keep the two distinct events separate: He focused on the race while in the car, then on his pace while running. The event was live-streamed on Periscope by Cassill's sponsor Snap Fitness, and those tracking his progress were treated to a running dialogue, along with occasional cheers from folks watching Cassill jog by. The event raised money for the Folds of Honor Foundation, through a partnership with Snap Fitness. For every 30-day trial pass purchased between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Snap Fitness will donate $1 to the foundation that provides scholarships to families of service members killed or disabled in active duty. Cassill is one of the most active drivers in the garage and routinely logs 30-plus miles of running every week. He also competes in triathlons and says his commitment to fitness is what spurred this idea. "In terms of my profession, it helps me so much in a race car," Cassill said. "It gives me the confidence I need to know I'm the best race car driver I can be. It shows my team I'm giving it all. I'm fresher at the end of a race because of my fitness. And also, people need to know how good it feels to be fit and to be healthy." Cassill certainly looked that part after the run, bantering easily with his friends and family while cooling down. In fact, he looked like he could run another 14 miles. Maybe he'll do another such event in the future? "I don't know," Cassill said with a smile. "Maybe." Here are all my mile splits from the run pic.twitter.com/IDDWyToAFO — landon cassill (@landoncassill) May 25, 2015 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
Four-time champion will start 18th in Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) RELATED: Starting lineup in Charlotte With 92 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories and four championships, Jeff Gordon has said that NASCAR was "meant to be" for him. But Sunday afternoon, the former open-wheel prodigy also got to drive the path not taken, and lead the Indianapolis 500 field to the green flag as the official pace car driver. After a tutoring session from IndyCar great Johnny Rutherford, Gordon got the Chevy Corvette Z06 up to speed, took three laps in front of the field and then pulled off to watch the race's opening laps unfold before climbing on an airplane to fly back to Charlotte where he will start 18th in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway this evening (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) -- NASCAR's nightcap to racing's famed Memorial Day weekend slate. The NASCAR champion was introduced to the crowd at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway just prior to the driver lineup Sunday morning. Carrying his son Leo and walking alongside his daughter Ella and wife Ingrid, Gordon stopped briefly to shake hands and speak with the legendary Mario Andretti before waving to the crowd which offered the NASCAR great a standing and rousing ovation. Moments later, Indy 500 starter and fellow California native Townsend Bell emerged wearing Jeff's neon-colored 24 on his driver's suit. His car will also carry that number as a tribute to Gordon. It was yet another recognition of Gordon's great contributions to racing and his special place in Indiana racing lore. Under green at #Indy500 , but @townsendbell gave @JeffGordonWeb a prerace tour of the No. 24 @TeamChevy . #IMSAatINDY pic.twitter.com/INrl7E0w0B — TUDOR Championship (@UnitedSportsCar) May 24, 2015 Calling it an honor and speaking often about the "energy" of Indy 500 race day, Gordon described Sunday's experience as "an opportunity of a lifetime." "To come down that front straightaway the first time and hear that crowd cheering for the cars, the drivers, and this amazing event …to be able to hear that from inside the pace car with the windows down is just amazing," Gordon said after getting out of the car. "Not to mention that the pace car has to get after it pretty good out here because that last lap is 100 mph and through the corners, maintaining that is something. So that was definitely cool. A huge thrill and a huge honor. "This whole year has just been incredible from the fan interaction, racetracks, this phone call (from stepfather John Bickford that Chevrolet offered Gordon the opportunity to drive the pace car), this moment. This is a very, very special year. Very cool experience being the pace car driver for #Indy500 . Thanks @TeamChevy & @IMS pic.twitter.com/PnQ5WvuMDx — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) May 24, 2015 "I mean, there's no doubt in my mind that one thing that maybe I feel like I've accomplished more than I ever expected or hoped to in racing, but the one thing that did kind of did allude me and we pursued -- I say 'we', my dad, my mom and myself -- when we were trying to go to the next level, was getting a chance to race here in the Indianapolis 500. "I've said this many times, I still believe it. Winning the inaugural Brickyard 400 , to me, fulfilled that dream. Now I've had a chance to win it four more times. This is a special place for me. I love getting a chance to race here." Gordon's five Brickyard 400 wins is the most for a driver at the speedway, tying him with the legendary Michael Schumacher, who has five Formula One grand prix victories. He'll have a chance to hold the record on his own in this July's running of the Brickyard 400 (July 26, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, IMS, SiriusXM). But for those hoping that the 43-year old Gordon may one day make a start in the Indianapolis 500, he dashed those thoughts Sunday morning telling reporters that would not be happening. "I'll be in the FOX booth next year," Gordon said. "I'm so glad that deal worked out because I wouldn't have a better excuse for you." And further, Gordon revealed that although he had previously left open the door to compete in random NASCAR races that now seems less and less likely. "The way I set that up is because I've known too many drivers that I respect and have raced with that, you know, said, 'OK, I'm retiring, stepping away, then they come back,'' Gordon said. "I'm not quite ready, want to run a few more races. "That's why I didn't say this is my final year of ever competing at a single event. But it really, truly is. It really is. As I get further into the year, as things come together, I don't see myself doing any races. If I do a race, maybe a Martinsville or a short track." In the meantime, Gordon was intent to live in the moment Sunday. "To me, if every time I could attend something like the Indianapolis 500 and then go to my own race -- it would definitely be motivating," Gordon said. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up before Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX) MORE: NASCAR.com's picks for Charlotte " See all 43 cars for Charlotte What: 56th Annual Coca-Cola 600 Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway , Concord, N.C. When: Sunday, May 23, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR) Distance: 400 laps (600 miles) Green Flag: 6:18.30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution : Lap 25 On The Front Row " Complete lineup for Sunday's race 1. Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (194.252 mph) 2. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.836 mph) Failed to Qualify Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota; Mike Bliss , Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford; Travis Kvapil , Hillman SmithMotorsports No. 39 Chevrolet; Jeff Green , TMG No. 30 Chevrolet; Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Carl Edwards , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota (192.273 mph) " Full practice results Second Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (192.644 mph) " Full practice results Third Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (188.653 mph) " Full practice results Four Score? Matt Kenseth will start from the pole for the 15th time in his career when the Coca-Cola 600 gets under way. On three occasions, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has managed to also win the race – at Bristol in 2005 and '15 as well as Kansas in '13. "Back when I started, we worked hard on qualifying but we worked way harder on the race (setup) because even if we started 20th, we knew if we had a really good car we could drive up to the front and after a couple of pit stops we'd be in the top few," Kenseth said. "That's not necessarily the case today. You can start in the middle and you can be stuck in the middle all day sometimes. It's hard to make up ground." SHOP: Kenseth gear No. 450 for Biffle, McMurray Roush Fenway Racing 's Greg Biffle and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Jamie McMurray will be making their 450th career starts in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series in the Coca-Cola 600 . Biffle's first start came April 28, 2002 at Auto Club Speedway . He finished 13th. McMurray's first start came later that same year, on October 6 at Talladega Superspeedway . Driving in a relief role for the injured Sterling Marlin, McMurray finished 26th. Front Row Joe(y) Team Penske driver Joey Logano qualified second for the Coca-Cola 600 , his seventh front-row start in 12 races this year. Since the 2014 season and the move to group qualifying, Logano has earned 15 top-two starts. SHOP: Logano gear Shorten the 600? "If they take that away or shorten it, it doesn't have the same challenge because that extra 100 miles is really hard. It puts extra wear and tear on your parts, your pieces, and your driver. It makes you change your strategy. And … it's something unique to our sport. … I like the challenge of that extra 100 miles once a year. I wouldn't want to do it twice a year." – former championship winning crew chief Ray Evernham Third Cup Start for Elliott Defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott will be making his third Sprint Cup Series start this weekend, qualifying the Hendrick Motorsports No. 25 Chevrolet 28th in the 43-car field. Elliott, the son of 1988 Sprint Cup champ and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , finished 38th in his Sprint Cup debut earlier this year at Martinsville and 16th at Richmond. Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Charlotte based on past 20 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (111.6) Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (106.7) Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (100.8) GALLERY: Check out the Memorial Day weekend patriotic paint schemes Chevy Stumble? For the first time this season, no Chevrolet drivers qualified in the top five. Points leader Kevin Harvick , in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet, led the GM charge and will start eighth. Lap Leaders Jim Paschal holds the record for most laps led by the winner in the Coca-Cola 600 , leading 335 of 400 en route to his victory at Charlotte in 1967 (it was then called the World 600). Race winner Jimmie Johnson led 334 of 400 in '04. The driver leading the most laps in the 600 and NOT winning the race is Junior Johnson, who led 289 in the '63 event but finished second to Fred Lorenzen after suffering a flat tire with fewer than five laps remaining. Defending Coca-Cola 600 Champion Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet Former Charlotte Winners In Field Jimmie Johnson (7); Jeff Gordon (5); Kasey Kahne (4); Kevin Harvick (3); Matt Kenseth , Jamie McMurray (2); Casey Mears , Tony Stewart , Brad Keselowski , Clint Bowyer , Kurt Busch (1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Watch five-time Brickyard 400 winner talk about driving Indy 500 pace car RELATED: Gordon to drive Indy 500 pace car Five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon is doing the Indy 500- Coca-Cola 600 double on Sunday. After driving the Chevrolet Z06 Corvette pace car to start the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway , Gordon will fly to Charlotte Motor Speedway to compete in the 56th running of the Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). Gordon is on the ground in Speedway, Indiana and will meet the media at 10:30 a.m. ET. Watch the news conference live here. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
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
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Can't get enough Coca-Cola 600 coverage? George Winkler and Kenny Bruce have you covered with extensive reporting on NASCAR's longest race. ... @nascarcasm dreams up what drivers would tweet to President Obama, now that he has a personal account on Twitter. TUESDAY: Look for Power Rankings presented by John Deere to get another shakeup this week. Who would you vote for No. 1? Make sure to tell us in the comments section. Senior writer Kenny Bruce takes a deep dive into what actually goes on during a rookie meeting, and how that has changed over time. Plus, check out @nascarcasm's always-hilarious photo recap of the Coca-Cola 600 WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at Dover International Speedway this weekend for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks . Plus, learn more about the history of Dover in our track photo gallery. High 5, which drops every Wednesday at noon ET, will bring some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. THURSDAY: It's a tripleheader at Dover, so trucks are on track for 145 minutes -- NASCAR.com has you covered with a live leaderboard. Senior writer Holly Cain will feature how Catwalk for a Cause has become so near and dear to Martin Truex Jr . Speaking of Truex, Dover is his home track, and we'll look back on his first career win at the 1-mile concrete oval. FRIDAY: There are six on-track events, and we'll cover them all, starting at 10 a.m. with XFINITY Series practice and culminating later in the evening with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. We'll also have eight of the best tweets that you may have missed from the previous week. Also coming this week: We'll recap the entire Charlotte weekend in GIF form, a fun way to look back at the top moments from CMS ... Dover is known for its unique trophy -- check out it, along with some of the others from across the sport ... Kenny Bruce hits all the high notes from a technical perspective on Wednesday in Tech Talk ... Thursday's Driver Reports will forecast who should be favored at the Monster Mile.
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