The dominant form of Carl Edwards this weekend continued with a win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix on Saturday. He was never out of the top three and led for a total of 153 of the two hundred laps, giving him his second consecutive win and his fourth this season in the Nationwide Series.
The race started with a funny variation of the usual formalities when the day’s Grand Marshal, Gil Martin, who happens to be Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief announced, “Lady . . . Gentlemen . . . and Kevin Harvick . . . start your engines!”
Pole sitter Joey Logano led the field away at the green flag and held the lead until the first caution period on lap 22. After the green was given on lap 30 Edwards started making his way to the front to take the lead eight laps later which he held until the second caution when Kyle Busch had a go at leading. After that it was Edwards all the way and his win was made easier when Kyle Busch picked up a deflating front tyre which made him make a green flag pit stop on lap 163 which dropped him a lap down in 21st place. Busch fought his way back on to the lead lap and up to 16th spot at the checkered flag.
A drive worthy of note was that of fifteenth place finisher, Cole Whitt, who had been running as high as eleventh at one point in this his first ever Nationwide start. Whitt, a 19 year old Californian, earned this drive on the strength of his rookie season in the K&N Pro East Series where he qualified at his first race on pole, as he did again two races later. If you take away the three races where he had mechanical issues, in the remaining seven he scored three 2nd places, one 4th, two 5th and a ninth. When he was thirteen he was picked up by Red Bull who have supported him through his karting programme, followed by midgets and sprint cars and now into NASCAR.
His first race was in stark contrast to Danica Patrick‘s efforts last night. She complained during the race of feeling as though she had a target on her as she suffered some argy-bargy with Tony Raines and Alex Kennedy, although the latter was to discover Patrick could give it back as well when she gave him a hard shove from behind. Unfortunately Patrick hit the wall soon after and the time lost having the damage repaired dropped her back to a finish in 32nd.
Edwards explained after his win that he had at out the second practice at the suggestion of team owner, Jack Roush, who thought that as the car was running perfectly Edwards’ time would be better spent focussing on the Sprint Cup car, a wise judgement as Edwards qualified the #99 Aflac Ford on pole for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race. Having been fastest in all of the practice sessions he has to be a favourite for tonight’s race, especially after his Nationwide win.