Nov 10, 2013, 6:47 PM EDT
But Jimmie Johnson may be an even bigger winner as he took a commanding lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup ahead of next weekend’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Edwards assumed control of the lead with 35 laps to go after a lengthy green-flag cycle of stops ended. But with two laps remaining, he suddenly slowed down the backstretch, which enabled Harvick to pass him for the lead while coming to the white flag.
Harvick went on to win by 1.8 seconds over Kasey Kahne after leading a race-high 70 of 312 laps.
Meanwhile, Johnson survived two major run-ins on the track and rallied to a third-place finish, while Matt Kenseth was unable to overcome both handling and pit road problems and finished 23rd, one lap off the pace.
As a result, Johnson’s lead over Kenseth in the championship has ballooned to a margin of 28 points with just one race remaining.
If Johnson can finish 23rd or better in South Florida, he’ll secure his sixth Sprint Cup and inch closer to seven-time Cup champions Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
“I really had to fall back on my dirt-driving skills from racing in the desert for all the years that I did in both of those instances,” Johnson told ESPN while referring to those two potential disasters he avoided.
On Lap 1, Johnson fell from the pole to sixth place after contact with Joey Logano in Turn 3 knocked him out of the groove. Then on Lap 163, Edwards made contact with Johnson that sent the two up the race track and forced Johnson to make another save.
Johnson tumbled to 26th after his incident with Edwards, which happened just before a caution came out for a spinning J.J. Yeley. But he got some help when under that yellow, Kenseth suffered a 25-second pit stop that began with confusion over whether he should take two or four tires, and then got worse when he ran over an air hose, forcing him to back up in his pit box.
Kenseth fell from seventh to 29th, and was unable to completely recover as his car simply wouldn’t come around to him. Meanwhile, Johnson quickly cut through the field and advanced back into the lead pack as multiple pit strategies played out across the field in the race’s second half.
“The 20 [Kenseth] wasn’t having the best day, so after that issue [on Lap 163], we came to pit road and left, and I expected him to be well ahead of me and he was behind me,” Johnson said.
“At that point, I knew I was in good shape relative to the championship battle. I knew that I had a good car and I could get through traffic, and it was just about getting points on [Kenseth] at that point.”
Now, Kenseth has no choice but to go for broke at Homestead – and hope Johnson breaks as well.
“I’m disappointed, obviously,” Kenseth said. “The way our season’s gone, kinda being in the championship hunt, we hoped to go down to Homestead and race for it on performance.
“On the other hand, I’m really proud of our team. There’s not another car I’d rather be driving…We’ve had an amazing, incredible season and we’ve still got one week left.”
Oct 29, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT
Behind the scenes of Lewis Hamilton’s day at the TODAY Show.
Oct 29, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
When it comes to this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, John Force is taking his effort to win his record-extending 17th Funny Car championship to a high power. As in 16X.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kelli Stavast talked with Jeff Gordon about the difficulties of advancing to the final round of the Chase.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT
It was just a matter of time for NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Bob Vandergriff Jr., and now that time has come.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
With some of the things he says or does on the racetrack, Kyle Busch might seem like he’s all wet at times.
Oct 29, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Hawksworth: “We’re here to win, to give 120 percent.”
Oct 29, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Downtown Austin gets treated to the first big event of the F1 weekend.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT
Coming up today: More on this week’s critical test at Homestead-Miami Speedway; an in-depth look at the Drive for Diversity program; Parker Kligerman shows you what it takes to be tops at Texas in the NBC Sports iRacing Simulator.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
After 10 delays to resolve the most serious charges against him stemming from a three-state police chase that reached speeds as high as 150-mph, will the 11th time finally be the charm for former NASCAR and World of Outlaws racer Tyler Walker?
Oct 29, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
A.J. Foyt’s Honda-powered team expands to two cars, with Jack Hawksworth joining Takuma Sato in the lineup.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:24 PM EDT
Even though it will only be his third appearance this season in the Nationwide Series, it’s kind of fitting that Florida native Scott Lagasse Jr. will compete in the third NNS race and season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
CORE autosport looks back on its fourth straight PC team title.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT
Voda will serve primarily as host for pre/post-race coverage of Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series events on NBC Sports.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
The perils of street racing and dealing with city governments: Baltimore was a case study in what could go wrong.
Oct 29, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Jonathan Bomarito back in a Mazda, now in a prototype. I
Oct 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT
The Michael Waltrip Racing driver gets acquainted with Toyota’s newest challenger.
Oct 29, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Schmidt Peterson’s first Indy Lights driver is confirmed.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
The Fort Lauderdale, Florida native is inducted into the Broward County (Fla.) Hall of Fame as part of a class that includes two Olympic gold medalists and a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
A simple “in Indianapolis” tweet could well mean Sam Bird is looking at an IndyCar opportunity.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
British driver speaks with TODAY’s Josh Elliott ahead of this weekend’s United States GP in Austin, Texas.
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