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MOTOR RACING ROUNDUP

Edwards is closing on Busch

August 18, 2008|From the Associated Press

Carl Edwards sent a not-so-subtle message to Kyle Busch on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

"We're gearing up for the Chase," Edwards said after pulling away from runner-up Busch for his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of the season. "I'm feeling stronger than ever. We're here to win championships. That's what we're shooting for."

With only three races remaining until the start of the 10-race Chase for the Championship, Edwards closed the gap on series leader Busch with his second victory in the last three races. Edwards also completed a rare weekend sweep on the two-mile Michigan oval at Brooklyn, Mich., adding the victory in the 3M Performance 400 to a victory Saturday in the Nationwide Series event.

When the 12-man Chase begins next month at New Hampshire, all of the eligible drivers will be seeded, with 10 bonus points added to their base total of 5,000 for each victory. Edwards lost one 10-point bonus because of a penalty early in the season, but would still be just 40 points behind Busch if the Chase began next week.

"The greatest part is we didn't give up more bonus points to Kyle," Edwards said. "He's just so strong. Every time I win and he finishes second that's really a 20-point spread for us."

Busch was just ahead of Edwards when they pitted under caution on Lap 180 of the 200-lap event, but Edwards won the race out of the pits.

David Ragan and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had stayed on track and were running 1-2, but Edwards passed them on the restart on Lap 183 to retake the lead, then held off Busch on two more restarts, including the final one with two laps left.

Edwards became the second driver to win both races on the same weekend at Michigan. Mark Martin did it in 1993.

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Sanctions are likely for two Joe Gibbs Racing cars that have dominated the Nationwide Series this season after NASCAR caught team members deliberately trying to mask the horsepower in their powerful engines. NASCAR inspectors found magnets under the gas pedals of the No. 18 and No. 20 Toyotas when the cars were sent to the chassis dyno after Saturday's race at Michigan International Speedway.

Tony Stewart finished third in the No. 20 in his final Nationwide race for JGR, and Joey Logano was seventh in the No. 18.

Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said he and his father, owner Joe Gibbs, had no prior knowledge of their crew members' intent and apologized to NASCAR and Toyota. NASCAR said it would decide the sanctions this week.

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Tony Schumacher raced to his fifth consecutive top-fuel victory and 10th of the season, beating Larry Dixon with a 3.845-second run at 313.88 mph in the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals at Mohnton, Pa. The victory moved Schumacher within one of top-fuel great Joe Amato's record of 52 wins.

Jack Beckman raced to his second funny-car victory of the year, beating mentor Frank Hawley with a 4.183-second run at 291.57 mph. Beckman is an instructor at Hawley's drag racing school.

Jeg Coughlin and Matt Smith also won their divisions in the 17th of 24 events on the NHRA Powerade series.

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Australian star Mat Mladin completed a weekend sweep at Virginia International Raceway at Alton, Va., winning his sixth consecutive AMA Superbike race and ninth of the year.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Standings

*--* Driver Pts Behind 1. Kyle Busch 3,429 -- 2. Carl Edwards 3,207 222 3. Jimmie Johnson 3,127 302 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3,084 345 5. Jeff Burton 3,080 349 6. Tony Stewart 2,871 558 7. Greg Biffle 2,854 575 8. Kevin Harvick 2,812 617 9. Jeff Gordon 2,791 638 10. Matt Kenseth 2,783 646 11. Kasey Kahne 2,756 673 12. Denny Hamlin 2,735 694 T13. Clint Bowyer 2,709 720 T13. David Ragan 2,709 720 15. Brian Vickers 2,569 860 *--*

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