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Carl Edwards survived rain delays that lasted five hours and won the wild NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The start of the race was delayed for about two hours due to rain. Brad Keselowski, who won last week at Las Vegas, took the lead from pole sitter Denny Hamlin on lap two after Hamlin led the first lap. On lap 50 NASCAR threw a competition caution and Jimmie Johnson took just two tires on the pit stops to get the lead. However, on lap 114 he had a flat right front tire and went three laps down.
The caution came out for rain on lap 118, and the race was red flagged on lap 124 with Matt Kenseth as the leader. The delay lasted three hours and 19 minutes. When the race restarted, Kenseth was involved in a crash, but made his way back to the lead on lap 285.
Edwards, Aric Almirola, Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. didn't pit during a caution with 78 laps to go. With two and a half laps to go, the caution's lights came on unexpectedly and shortly after NASCAR called for it. It began raining again and the race ended under caution with Edwards, Stenhouse, Almirola, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose as the top five.
This is Edwards' third win at Bristol and the 22nd of his career, according to Fox Sports.
"I knew pretty quickly after we restarted that not pitting was the right call just how fast the car was," Edwards told ESPN after the race.
"We ran our fastest lap with 30 laps or 40 laps on the tires, so I felt pretty good. I was a little nervous that Kevin [Harvick] had four tires and I think he was fourth, and I thought if we get a caution he'll start on the outside at the top behind me, and if I were to get a bad start he might be in position to snatch the lead from that spot. With him out of the picture, I felt like we definitely had the right -- we didn't have a disadvantage on anyone."
Edwards guaranteed himself a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with the win, as winning races in the main way to make the Chase this year. NASCAR executive vice president of race operations Steve O’Donnell tweeted Sunday that the caution with two laps to go was caused by a track malfunction. However, ESPN notes that NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said that the caution was caused by the flagman accidentally activating the caution lights.
Keselowski is the points leader by 10 points over Dale Earnhardt Jr. after four races. NASCAR heads to Fontana, Calif., Sunday for the fifth race of the year.
image: Wikimedia Commons