SONOMA, Calif. — Carl Edwards has never been known for his road racing skills — to the point team owner Jack Roush had to send him testing in a two-seater so Boris Said could teach him the basics.
A decade later, Edwards finally has a win to show for his hard work.
And, he beat road racing ace Jeff Gordon to get to Victory Lane on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, where Gordon leads all drivers with five wins.
“My road racing progression, it’s been a pretty long climb,” Edwards said. “The real special part to me was to stand in Victory Lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second-place finisher. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon, and specifically watching how he drove this race track and all the successes he had here, so I mean, that’s really super. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Edwards’ win made Roush Fenway Racing the unlikely organization to end Hendrick Motorsports’ five-race winning streak. And, the win came a week after Roush was shut out at Michigan, where the organization failed to put a car in the top 10 for the first time since 2000.
Edwards took the lead on a restart with 25 laps remaining and seemed to have the win wrapped up until Gordon nearly chased him down on the final lap. Gordon had one good look at Edwards and couldn’t pull off the pass.
“That last lap was ugly,” Edwards said of trying to hold off Gordon.
It wasn’t a terrible day for the Hendrick organization, which had won every Sprint Cup Series race since Gordon’s victory at Kansas on May 10. Instead, HMS settled for all four of its drivers finishing in the top seven.
Gordon, the Sprint Cup Series points leader, wound up second. He said he made one mistake in overdriving a turn with about five laps to go that allowed Edwards to build a healthy lead.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third after rallying from an incident that wrecked Matt Kenseth.
Edwards’ win is his first career victory on a road course, and he’d never been higher than third at Sonoma. More important, it was his second win of this season and locks him into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
It was Edwards’ 23rd win of his career, the 135th Sprint Cup Series victory for car owner Jack Roush, and it made Edwards the 10th consecutive different winner at Sonoma.
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