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Edwards rallies for NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Charlotte

Carl Edwards celebrates with a backflip off his damaged No. 60 Ford after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Carl Edwards celebrates with a backflip off his damaged No. 60 Ford after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

CONCORD, N.C. - Carl Edwards tested the durability limits of his No. 60 Ford Mustang on Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Rebounding from hard contact with the wall early in the Dollar General 300, Edwards held off Kyle Busch on a five-lap green-flag run to the finish to win his eighth NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season and the 37th of his career.

Busch came home second followed by Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler, who claimed the final $100,000 Nationwide Insurance Dash4Cash bonus and cut the series lead of ninth-place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to 15 points.

Brian Scott ran fifth, followed by Brad Keselowski, whose dominating run was foiled by a cut tire late in the race. Justin Allgaier, polesitter Paul Menard, Stenhouse and Brian Vickers completed the top 10.

Kenny Wallace finished 16th in his 519th Nationwide start, tying the series record of Jason Keller.

Just past 30 laps into the 200-lap race, Edwards smacked the outside wall, spent considerable time in the pits for repairs on Lap 41 and restarted 27th on Lap 45. Gradually, relentlessly, he worked his way back to the front.

On the final restart on Lap 196, Edwards benefitted from a push from Bayne, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, and surged past Busch into the lead. The final five laps were the only ones Edwards led all night.

"What got us the lead - Trevor pushed, and that meant a lot," said Edwards, who tied Kevin Harvick for third on the all-time series wins list. "He could have gone three-wide. Man, this is huge. I hit the wall really hard and messed the right side of the car up.

"I thought Brad had it, and there at the end, I thought Kyle was going to get me. He has the ability to turn it on there at the end. But he raced me really clean, and I appreciate that."

The first two thirds of Friday night's race looked like a replay of the preceding Saturday at Kansas, where Keselowski put an old-fashioned whipping on the rest of the Nationwide field, leading 173 of 200 laps on the way to his fourth victory of the season.

Keselowski wasn't in Kansas anymore, but it didn't matter. After a caution for Ryan Truex's hard hit against the Turn 2 wall, Keselowski pulled away following a restart on Lap 136 and opened a wide margin over everyone save Stenhouse, who managed to stay within five car lengths of Keselowski's rear bumper for the first 15 laps of the run.

Busch, whose car excelled on long runs, gradually reeled in Stenhouse and passed him on Lap 157. By Lap 160, Busch was 1.177 seconds behind Keselowski and closing.

In Turn 2 on Lap 171, Keselowski suddenly slowed. "I've got a flat! I've got a flat!" Keselowski radioed to his crew as Busch blew past, narrowly avoiding contact with the No. 22 Dodge as the two cars traded positions.

The punctured tire caused Keselowski to spin, bring out the fifth caution of the race, allowing him to change tires without losing a lap. After pit stops under the caution, Stenhouse led the field to the green flag, with Sadler beside him.

Busch restarted fourth on Lap 177 but grabbed the lead from Sadler on Lap 178, as Keselowski, who restarted 13th tried to make up ground.

Keselowski, who led a race-high 119 laps, had worked his way up to ninth before caution for debris on Lap 185 bunched the field for a restart on Lap 189. Joey Logano's brush with the Turn 4 wall slowed the field again on Lap 192 and set up the final restart of the race.

Note: Sadler also won $100,000 for race fan Joe Thornton of New Port Richey, Fla., as part of the Nationwide Dash4Cash program.