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article imageNASCAR: Edwards starts and ends in front of the field at Bristol

By John Duarte     Apr 18, 2016 in Sports
Bristol - Carl Edwards led the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17. Nearly three hours and 16 minutes later, he led the field to the checkered flag of the Food City 500 for his first win of the season.
In between, Edwards was totally in control, leading more than half the race — 276 of 500 laps — and capped the afternoon screaming “that's what I'm talking about. Great work guys” to his crew on the team radio. Edwards was elated after winning the Food City 500.
“The car was fast.. We didn't have any trouble and really it's a testament to everybody at the shop and our whole team,” he said, noting that he has all but secured his spot for the Chase for the Sprint Cup at the end of the year. “Really awesome to have a win so now we can really have some and focus on this championship.”
Though the race statistics could say otherwise, Edwards' dominant afternoon performance was by no means a Sunday drive according to the Food City 500 winner. He said that no one can ever take anything for granted at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“This place is crazy. When you're sitting in the driver's seat here, everything is so fast, you can jump that little rubber—you can hop over the rubber or get sideways or have trouble at any moment,” Edwards said. “I, at no point, felt comfortable. I was on edge the entire time. For me, it was a really though race in the car.”
While Edwards was comfortably cruising to the win, the battle for the podium raged on behind him. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch jockey for position during the closing laps, exchanging spots a couple times. As they came to the final lap, Busch almost lost control of his car and Chase Elliott tried to duck underneath him, but Busch held on to finish third in the race, behind Edwards and Earnhardt.
No one was more surprised to be there at the end, fighting for a podium finish, than Earnhardt, whose race got off to an auspicious start. Too much pressure on the brakes caused Earnhardt to inadvertently activate the “kill switch” and he had to coast into his pit box to allow his crew to reboot the car's electronics.
“I was warming the brakes up, like I always do, and apparently I applied too much pressure and I killed the motor,” Earnhardt said. “We'll work on that and maybe raise the threshold a little bit.”
Earnhardt was two laps down when he resumed his race, but fought his way back to the front. When it was all said and done, Earnhardt felt fortunate to find himself where he was at the end of the day.
“We had about a 10th-place car. We weren't really that good all day,” he said. “We got real lucky the last three restarts to be on the outside line. So it was good. We'll take it.”
Busch, who is a five-time winner at Bristol and led 41 laps on Sunday, said his afternoon was based on passing one car at a time.
“We just battled through it. And we just kept working on it. And there's nothing more that I could have gotten out of the car,” the third-place finisher said. “I'm really happy with the way that everybody worked together.”
Kevin Harvick pulled in to first place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers standings after another Top 10 finish. The 2014 series champion finished eighth in the Food City 500 for his seventh placing in the Top 10 in eight races. One point behind the leader is Edwards, who has also finished seven of the eight races to this point among the Top 10. Jimmie Johnson sits third, 16 points behind Harvick.
The NASCAR roadshow travels back to Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2016.
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