Carl Edwards win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night was his second of the season but didn’t come without a bit of controversy.
Edwards first took the lead during a round of green flag pit stops on lap 342. As the leaders pitted in front of him, a caution came out for debris from the blown tire of Jimmie Johnson. Edwards was among those still on track when the caution came out trapping most of the leaders down a lap. Edwards would take the lead off pit road during the round of pit stops. Ryan Newman, needing a win to secure a spot in the Chase passed Edwards with 10 to go. But a caution flag for a spin set up a final round of stops and a three lap dash to the finish.
Paul Menard won the race off pit road by virtue of taking only two tires while most of those behind, including Edwards took four. Menard lined up on the inside with Edwards to the outside for the restart. As the field got the green flag, Menard appeared to slow as Edwards moved ahead of him at the start-finish line. Edwards would go onto win while Menard finished fifth. Edwards later said that Menard had spun his tires and Edwards had no choice but to continue speeding forward.
“I knew he was going to be at a big disadvantage with grip,” Edwards said. “He took off. I waited until he went to go. As we were going, his car actually touched my door. I think it surprised him a little bit or something. He turned a little bit. I heard his engine speed up. He spun the tires. At that point, I mean, I really have a choice; either lift off the throttle and wait for him to try to gather it up. I've never seen a guy able to gather it up too quickly when they spin that bad, or go and hope NASCAR understands that he spun his tires.”
Menard agreed that he had trouble on the final restart.
“We just had a really good long run car,” Menard said. “Restarts, especially that last restart old left side tires, we had to try something. We weren’t going to beat those guys heads up so we had to try a little strategy, but awesome Chevrolet on long runs. Just couldn’t take off very good.”
NASCAR seemed to agree with Edwards thus no penalty was issued.
“They (NASCAR) understand he came up and hit me and spun his tires,” Edwards said. “The guy in second place in that circumstance is in a tough position. If I had lifted and waited, I think the whole field would have run over us. You just can't. If he had four tires, it probably would have been different.”