Sometimes, you need to have the best car to win a Sprint Cup race. Sometimes, it’s all about timing your pit stops to perfection. For Carl Edwards, it was a case of the latter Sunday as he won the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The biggest question surrounding Edwards and a small handful of drivers fighting for the top spot in the final laps was whether they’d literally have enough fuel in the tank to get to the finish line. They gambled by not making a late pit stop so as to work their way up the field.
The gambit paid off in a big way for Edwards, as he not only held on to his lead but also opened up major space between himself and Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished second and third, respectively.
NASCAR posted the final lap of the race:
This was the first win for Edwards under the Joe Gibbs Racing banner:
ESPN’s Marty Smith feels Edwards’ victory benefits the sport as a whole:
You can view the top 10 from the race below, per NASCAR.com:
Here’s a look at how the Coca-Cola 600 impacted the Chase standings, courtesy of ESPN.com:
Jimmie Johnson continues to occupy the first position based on his three wins, but it was a race to forget for the No. 48 car.
Turn 4 was particularly tricky for Johnson. He narrowly avoided a wreck early in the race as he spun out and wound up in pit road. Johnson regained control of the car before anything worse could happen. The second time around, his luck ran out. Johnson spun out and skidded into the inside wall.
His crew chief, Chad Knaus, was blunt with his assessment of the car following the crash, per USA Today’s Jeff Gluck:
Johnson returned to the track after a while but could only finish in 40th.
Denny Hamlin also had a somewhat frustrating night. Hamlin built some momentum in Charlotte off of last year’s Sprint Cup All-Star Race, and he continued his strong racing from that event into the Coca-Cola 600.
The No. 11 car led 53 laps Sunday and was in first place with 37 laps to go. Unfortunately for Hamlin, though, he had a loose wheel that caused him to pit on Lap 364, per ESPN’s Bob Pockrass:
By the time Hamlin returned to the track, he was in 17th place and a lap down. It was a massive reversal of fortunes, and he was all but out of contention from that point forward.
Martin Truex Jr. had similarly rotten luck. No driver led more laps Sunday than Truex (131), but it ultimately came to nothing. Truex has been one of the most consistent drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit, but he’s still looking for that first win in 2015.
Things were looking good for him as he held a comfortable lead late into the race. The only problem was that he couldn’t finish without pitting one more time. Truex headed to pit road on Lap 379, which all but closed the door on his hopes of winning.
Like Hamlin, Truex could only hope that the cars at the head of the pack would run out of fuel. NASCAR Stats made note of the drivers ahead of Truex:
Despite making a furious comeback, Truex was unable to make up the ground and wound up in fifth. Ryan Truex believes his older brother will come out on top sooner or later:
Maybe Martin Truex will have a better fate at next Sunday’s FedEx 400 at the Dover International Speedway. With the way he has driven this year, a victory is surely in the cards for the 34-year-old before too long.
There’s a good chance Truex will make it to the Challenger Round if he maintains this level but doesn’t have a checkered flag to his name. Still, he’d probably sleep a lot better at night if he could make it to Victory Lane just once between now and Sept. 12, the final day before the Chase cutoff.
from Bleacher Report - Front Page http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2475154-nascar-at-charlotte-2015-results-winner-standings-highlights-and-reaction