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It took almost two years but, Carl Edwards finally got back to victory lane Sunday afternoon in Phoenix. Edwards stayed up front for most of the race and he controlled the final seventy laps from the lead. Next week at Las Vegas would have been the two year mark since Edwards’ last win but, now that stat is thrown out the window since Edwards has finally got back to victory lane. The race played out fairly calm but, definitely competitive and the last restart with two to go was stand-on-your-feet worthy.
Mark Martin (No.55) started on the pole for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 out in the desert in Avondale, Arizona and he stayed up front for a good part of the first fifty laps. The first caution of the day came out on lap 21 for Scott Riggs (No.44) who blew a tire and hit the turn 4 wall. The second yellow flag of the day came out on lap 49 for Kyle Busch (No.18) who spun out in turn 2 and slightly tapped the outside wall. Busch would never recover from this incident since he went a lap down and he was never a threat for the win.
Juan Pablo Montoya (No.42) and Greg Biffle (No.16) swapped the lead many times between laps 57 and 65. When the third caution of the day flew on lap 66, Juan Pablo Montoya was out front. The caution flew for Dave Blaney (No.7) who had David Stremme (No.30) get into the back of him as they went into turn 1 and Blaney spun up the track and hit the wall on the driver’s side. Once the restart came, Juan Pablo Montoya swapped the lead with Greg Biffle one more time and Biffle took control of the top spot for about the next twenty-five laps.
The fourth yellow-flag of the day waved on lap 97 for Ryan Newman (No.39) who blew a tire and hit the turn 4 wall. Brad Keselowski (No.2) would lead for a short period of time before the next caution which involved Newman again. On lap 141, Newman blew another tire and he hit the turn 1 wall hard and that impact ended his day. Carl Edwards (No.99) came to the lead for the first time of the day on the restart following Newman’s incident. At the halfway point in the race, Edwards led followed by Johnson (No.48), Earnhardt Jr. (No.88), Harvick (No.29) and Hamlin (No.11).
The sixth caution of the race flew on lap 185 for a vicious wreck involving Danica Patrick (No.10) and David Ragan (No.34). Patrick blew a tire as she entered the front straightaway and when she hit the wall, she bounced back off of it right into the path of Ragan and she and Ragan collided. Patrick was hit on the driver’s side by Ragan and the two slid down the frontstretch in a pile of debris. Patrick went to the garage as Ragan attempted to fix the damage to his machine on pit road. Both drivers were okay.
The second to last caution of the day came out with 76 laps to go for David Gilliland (No.38), who blew a tire and hit the turn 2 wall. Edwards got off pit road first under that caution and he gained the lead that he wouldn’t give back for the rest of the race. The final caution of the day shook things up when Ken Schrader got into the turn 3 wall with three to go. That caution set up a green-white-checker finish that we knew would be exciting. On the restart, the cars ran side-by-side all the way around the track and Edwards was able to remain in front and take home the victory.
Denny Hamlin (No.11) dived into the dog leg on a last ditch effort to gain some positions on the final lap and he got in front of Keselowski but, couldn’t clear Johnson. Johnson and Hamlin battled side-by-side to the line and Johnson just barely edged Hamlin out for second place.
Carl Edwards did his usual victory celebration on the frontstretch when he did a back flip off of his car and he then climbed up into the grandstands to celebrate with the fans. Edwards was very proud of himself for breaking the winless streak and for winning the Subway sponsored race in a Subway sponsored car. Edwards said in victory lane that this was “One of the coolest wins of my life.” This win is a great way to start off the season for Edwards and he will be looking for more victories throughout the season. Edwards will be a threat next weekend as we head to Las Vegas where he has won numerous times before. Things will get dicey next week in Las Vegas as another true test of the Gen 6 car will take place.