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Carl Edwards gains his first road course victory at Sonoma

Carl Edwards wins the Toyota/ Save Mart 350 in wine country
Carl Edwards wins the Toyota/ Save Mart 350 in wine country
Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Carl Edwards, driving the #99 Aflac Ford, wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup series race with a margin of victory of 0.591 seconds for the Toyota/ Save Mart 350 held at Sonoma Raceway. This is Edwards’ first victory in a road course race and the 8th consecutive driver to get his first road course victory at Sonoma. Edwards has 23 victories in 353 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts. Edwards now joins fellow drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, each with 2 victories for the 2014 season.

Edwards led 26 of the scheduled 110 laps at the 1.99 mile track in wine country. The Toyota/ Save Mart 350 in Northern California features 110 laps equaling to 219 miles or 350 kilometers, lending the 350 to the name.

“Real tough, that last lap was ugly,” Edwards said in victory lane about how tough the race was. “I grew up watching Jeff Gordon do well here and so to have him in my mirror that is real special.”

Jeff Gordon, who was leading the race for the half-way point for the first time of the day, as the drivers were in the midst of green-flag pit stops, Gordon gave up the lead on lap 56 for his pit stop. Gordon finished second but run out of laps after rapidly closing in on Edwards during the final laps, Gordon drove into 4 wide, with about 5 laps to go, giving Edwards they needed room for the win before Gordon could catch back up to Edwards.

The first caution came out on Lap 61, within 30 laps 5 more caution flags had flown, for a total of 6 cautions for 19 laps.

The third caution of the day came out for debris at lap 72- 74, laying to rest all pit strategies, putting all drivers on equal footing able to make the race from this point. But it wouldn’t be final caution within 2 laps at 76-79 for Matt Kenseth took a hard hit into the tire barrier in the s-turns while racing against Dale Earnhardt Jr. for position.

The race went back to green but by Lap 83-85 caution would wave as the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota of Clint Bowyer spun in Turn 11 taking along #4 Outback/ Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick. A disappointing end, once again for Harvick, who was leading the race for 23 laps, that would result in a 20th place finish on the lead lap.

The final caution would come out on Lap 92 as the #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota of Brian Vickers would spin the #17 EcoPower Oil Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the frontstretch. That would bunch the field back for the final restart.

Earnhardt Jr. finished in third, Jamie McMurray, who started from the pole, finished in fourth, with Paul Menard in fifth place. Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, Marcos Ambrose, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer finished 6-10 respectively.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to the Kentucky Speedway for the Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts for the night race at the 1 ½ mile track to be held Saturday, June 28, with coverage on TNT beginning at 6:30 p.m. but the race start time is at 7:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying for Saturday night race will be televised on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET. Friday, June 27. Matt Kenseth is the defending race winner at Kentucky Speedway.