After a violent wreck on the final lap wiped out a handful of top contenders, Carl Edwards took the checkered flag in Saturday’s 5-Hour Energy 200 Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway.
The wreck erupted as Edwards was racing Joey Logano after a restart on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish. Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and David Reutimann. Elliott Sadler finished sixth and took over the points lead in the series standings.
The victory was Edwards’ third of the season and the 32nd of his career, good for fourth on the career Nationwide victory list.
Edwards, who started from the pole as the fastest driver in practice after rain forced the cancellation of qualifying, pulled away from runner-up Logano over the final 13 laps before Michael Annett’s wreck on Lap 197 forced the race to overtime.
At first, Edwards thought he had hit Logano to start the massive Lap 209 wreck that destroyed the cars of Logano and Clint Bowyer, among others.
“Damn it—I didn’t mean to hit him,” Edwards radioed after the accident. “Is everybody all right?”
Replays showed clearly, however, that Edwards made no contact with Logano as the two raced for the lead. Logano had a lead of almost a car-length before the rear of his car stepped out and he slammed the outside wall. Logano bounced off the wall and into the path of Bowyer, whose Chevrolet careened into the inside wall.
“I’m just glad it worked out,” Edwards said after the race. “I’m glad that I didn’t hit him. I’m glad that everyone was OK. But that’s a product of what we do. When it comes down to it … this racetrack, we’re driving so hard here, and there’s so much grip, and you’re giving everything you can, and the cars are so close there at then end. …
“Obviously, Joey was racing as hard as he possibly could. I was racing as hard as I could. Man, that’s why they call it the Monster Mile.”
Busch failed in his bid to tie Mark Martin for the career Nationwide wins lead at 49.
Busch’s hopes for the record-tying victory suffered a blow during a bizarre chain of events near the midpoint of the race. On Lap 86, Alex Kennedy’s Dodge wrecked on the backstretch, bouncing between the outside and inside walls.
After the car came to a stop near the bottom of the track, Kennedy attempted to rejoin the action under caution, but his car didn’t turn as expected when Kennedy pulled up on the banking. Instead it rolled straight toward the outside wall and into the path of Kevin Swindell, who was making his Roush Fenway Racing debut in place of sidelined Trevor Bayne.
At nearly the same moment, the nose of Busch’s Toyota sustained damage as a line of cars accordioned on the way to pit road. Busch nosed into the No. 20 Toyota of Logano, and Reed Sorenson sustained damaged to his front valance when he ran into the back of Busch’s car.
Busch restarted 18th on Lap 101 after his crew taped the nose of the car. He had just passed Jason Leffler for the sixth position when Justin Allgaier, the series points leader entering the race, blew his right front tire and slammed the Turn 3 wall to bring out the sixth caution of the race.
Under orders from crew chief Tony Eury Jr., Josh Wise was the only driver who didn’t pit under the yellow and inherited the lead as rain stopped the race.
“We were the last car on the lead lap, so why not stay out and take the gamble?” Wise said during the red-flag period, hoping that rain would end the race at that point.
The gamble didn’t work. After the rain stopped, Wise brought his car to the pits under caution and surrendered the lead to Edwards for a restart on Lap 149. But Logano passed Edwards for the top spot on Lap 150 and stayed out front until Edwards overtook him on Lap 187.
Notes: Kennedy and his spotter were summoned to the NASCAR hauler to discuss the mistake in judgment that led to the wreck with Swindell. … The stoppage after Lap 144 lasted 28 minutes 26 seconds. … Allgaier’s DNF was his first in 22 races.