Saturday, November 14, 2009

Edwards wins Nationwide race in Pheonix, Busch all but claimed Championship

Photo Credit: Christian Peterson/Getty Image

With Carl Edwards sitting in 2nd place in NASCAR Nationwide series championship points behind Kyle Busch, the only thing he can do with his #60 Roush Racing Ford is earn maximum points through winning the last two races and lead as many laps possible. In the Able Body Labor 200, Edwards did exactly what was required on his part to hold challenge to Busch. Edwards O'Reilly/Valvoline Ford led much of the 200 lap distance with the only other leaders through the PIR event were polesitter Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. Apart from sharing the lead of the Able Body Labor 200, Hamlin and Keselowski's later demonstrated they were unwilling to share room on the track.

Continuing a rivalry stretching from earlier in the season, aggressive stock car rubbing from a restart where Hamlin used his #20 Toyota to tap the #88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet of Keselowski was reciprocated on in lap 157 when Keselowski spun out Hamlin through turn 4. JR Motorsports driver Keselowski finished 5th at the race's completion, prevailing over Hamlin who came home 12th. After the race, Denny Hamlin expressed in an interview he was unwilling to provide a soundbite to the incident but ended up providing one. "There's a lot of guys that have a lot of chips that they're going to cash in, I'm just going to be the first to the pay window." Hamlin said setting up what could be a moment of possible redemption at Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, it would not be surprising if NASCAR shares a word with both drivers before the Saturday Nationwide series finale.

While much of the race's focus rested on Busch and the 2009 Nationwide crown, the Able Body Labor 200 produced many performances worthy of mention. Behind Carl Edwards, Phoenix truck race winner Kevin Harvick came home second and third place belonged to a masterful performance by 2010 free agent Reed Sorenson in the Dollar General Toyota. The top 10 finishing order in Phoenix involved 8 of those drivers are qualified for the Sprint Cup show tomorrow. Only Mike Bliss in 8th and Steven Wallace finishing 10th were the only exceptions.

Kyle Busch had hoped to heist the Nationwide championship trophy triumphant, some early race contact with the #29 Chevrolet of Clint Boywer. With a 9th place finish against Carl Edwards' win, the finish failed to allow Busch to secure the necessary points to clinch the title at Phoenix. Angered by the missed opportunity to lock the championship, a disgruntled Busch characteristically declined to comment following the race. However, by just starting the Nationwide race next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway Kyle Busch will become the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion regardless of Edwards' performance.

However, Pheonix International Raceway served up another memorable victory celebration by the charismatic Carl Edwards. unable to do his trademark back-flips due to a frisbee-playing injury which caused a broken right foot, Edwards trumbled sideways for the crowd in the desert.

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