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Edwards gets flip-flop of a win at Dover

Although he triumphs, he could face penalties after his car fails post-race inspection on a day when crashes and tempers heat up drivers.

September 24, 2007|From the Associated Press

DOVER, Del. -- His car parked on the track because of a late-race red flag, Carl Edwards had time to catch replays on the big screen of the crash that wiped out other Chase drivers.

Edwards could only think about how lucky he was that he would get away from Dover unscathed.

"This place has great potential for disaster," he said.

Edwards avoided trouble on the track Sunday to win the NASCAR Dodge Dealers 400 auto race at Dover International Speedway, but he found it in the garage. The No. 99 Ford failed the post-race inspection because the right rear fender was too low, and NASCAR this week will probably hit Edwards with a fine and dock him points in the Chase.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Potson said there was no evidence of intentional tampering.

"This is a height violation. It is not one where we believe the structure of the body has been manipulated," he said.

Edwards had dodged the smoke, the skids and the wrecks to record his first victory in the Chase in two seasons and vault five spots to third in the championship standings.

Now it's all in doubt.

The probable penalty will further jumble a points race that has the top six drivers separated by only 18 points. Jeff Gordon seized the points lead, with Tony Stewart second. Jimmie Johnson, who led the standings entering the day, fell to fourth.

"It was a crazy day at Dover, and somehow we came out of it with the points lead," Gordon said.

It sure was crazy. All he has to do is ask Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth or Denny Hamlin. Smoked or smashed cars derailed their pursuit for a Nextel Cup title, and the race was devastating for much of the championship field.

Edwards' surge late at Dover helped him avoid a massive wreck with 14 laps left that affected Chase contenders Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Johnson and a few other drivers in the 400-mile race on the concrete track.

Kurt Busch's car hit the wall on the straightaway and ricocheted back on the track and into Reed Sorenson. The big crash left Truex's crumpled car on the track while the race was red-flagged for nearly 12 minutes.

The cars can be repaired. The damage done in the points race in the pursuit for the Nextel Cup title might be too much to overcome for some of the drivers.

"It's tough when everybody puts a lot of hard work into building these cars, and to just have one little problem like that took out a lot of cars," Kurt Busch said.

Busch was far from the only driver who ran into trouble.

Kenseth's car was smoking. Hamlin was fuming. Johnson and Kevin Harvick had tire woes.

That left Edwards one of the few Chase drivers still standing in the race that had 13 caution periods. Only four Chase drivers finished in the top 10.

"I think right now this Chase is turning into what people predicted," Edwards said. "The depth is such that I think you're going to have to win races."

Greg Biffle was second and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third. Mark Martin and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five in a Car of Tomorrow race.

Hamlin had a particularly rough go of it, wrecking with Kyle Petty and those two drivers got into a brief skirmish in the garage. Petty slapped Hamlin's helmet as he walked away.

"You smack me in the helmet and I'm going to punch you in the face," Hamlin said. "So I'd like for him to call me some time this week."

Hamlin placed 38th -- the worst of all Chase drivers -- and is stuck in 12th place.

"It's a shame that a guy with that much talent has to drive like that," Petty said of what he considered Hamlin's aggressiveness. "Even his teammate, Tony Stewart, talked about it."

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

The Chase

Nextel Cup standings through 28 out of 36 races.

*--* Driver Points Behind 1 Jeff Gordon 5,340 -- 1 Tony Stewart 5,338 2 3 Carl Edwards 5,337 3 4 Jimmie Johnson 5,336 4 5 Kyle Busch 5,330 10 6 Clint Bowyer 5,322 18 7 Martin Truex, Jr. 5,294 46 8 Jeff Burton 5,265 75 9 Kevin Harvick 5,225 115 10 Matt Kenseth 5,224 116 11 Kurt Busch 5,189 151 12 Denny Hamlin 5,182 158 *--*

REMAINING RACES

Sunday: LifeLock 400, Kansas City, Kan.

Oct. 7: UAW-Ford 500, Talladega, Ala.

Oct. 13: Bank of America 500, Concord, N.C.

Oct. 21: Subway 500, Martinsville, Va.

Oct. 28: Georgia 500, Hampton, Ga.

Nov. 4: Dickies 500, Fort Worth.

Nov. 11: Checker Auto Parts 500, Avondale, Ariz.

Nov. 18: Ford 400, Homestead, Fla.

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