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Critical pit stop made difference for Edwards

Mar 3, 2013, 10:30 PM EDT

Carl Edwards Victory Lane Getty Images

Carl Edwards‘ win in today’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway was set up by an important pit stop at Lap 238.

Edwards was behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. when the caution flag came out for a Lap 236 crash involving David Gilliland. But on pit road just two laps later, Edwards managed to beat everyone else out while Earnhardt was blocked as he was leaving by Casey Mears.

He wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the race.

“[Earnhardt] must have had the timing lines figured out really well, because I was at the max speed that I could go and he shot up there,” Edwards recalled. “I thought, ‘Oh man, I can’t go any faster. I’m gonna get a penalty.’ And Casey was up there and I thought, ‘I’m not exactly sure how this is gonna work out,’ and he turned left. Dale could have run me up into the wall and spun Casey out, and I could tell he thought about it. I think he did because there was that little pause and I thought, ‘He’s gonna do it.'”

“And then he stood on the brakes and kept from tearing all the cars up, so that had to be very difficult for him because I think we all knew right then that that could be the race. I’d like to think I was gonna pass him anyway, but I was a little nervous.”

While Edwards certainly appreciated Earnhardt not causing a mess on pit road, the latter was still, in his words, “frustrated” about a potential victory going by the boards.

“I was on the inside of [Edwards] on pit road and I think I could have beat him off, but [Mears] was trying to get in his stall and I had to lift for that,” said Earnhardt, who finished fifth after leading 47 laps on the afternoon. “And I knew right then…My opportunity to win the race was right there.”

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