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Edwards wins, but he's still in Johnson's rearview mirror

October 27, 2008|Associated Press

Winning races is the only way anyone has a chance to catch Jimmie Johnson in the race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

And even that may not be enough.

Carl Edwards won the Pep Boys Auto 500 on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, yet it barely kept him in Johnson's championship rearview mirror.

Johnson roared back from a rare pit-road penalty with a masterful final drive through the field to finish second and widen his lead in the standings to 183 points over Edwards with three races to go in the Chase for the championship.

A jubilant Edwards was quickly brought back down to earth when informed of Johnson's final position while celebrating in Victory Lane.

"Are you kidding me?" Edwards asked. "You've rained on my parade. I could have done without that one. That's unbelievable, he does a great job."

A championship-winning job.

Johnson, racing for his third consecutive title, started from the pole but dropped as low as 30th and a lap off the pace after NASCAR flagged him for speeding on pit road. He had to race his way back onto the lead lap, but was still hovering outside the top 10 as the laps wound down.

After debris on the track brought out a caution with 13 laps to go, crew chief Chad Knaus made the call to bring Johnson in for a quick four-tire stop. He restarted the race in 11th with eight laps to go, but picked off cars one at a time to finish second.

"Man, I feel like I went 12 rounds with [Mike] Tyson today," an exhausted Johnson said after the race. "That was just a great call, a risky call, but it just goes to show that Chad is out there racing. He's not trying to ride around and get points. He's out there to earn them. He called me in for tires and told me to put my cape on and off we went."

Denny Hamlin finished third.

Johnson can mathematically wrap up the title next week at Texas and become the first driver since Cale Yarborough (1976-78) to win three consecutive championships.

"Three more good tracks for us," Edwards said. "But, man, Jimmie is magic. We've got to go win those next three and hope for the best."


Briscoe takes IRL race in Australia

Ryan Briscoe won the Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise, Australia, taking the lead when Will Power crashed on the 17th lap.

Team Penske's Briscoe became the first Australian driver to win the 60-lap race on the 2.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit.

He beat Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon of New Zealand by 0.5019 seconds.



*--* RK DRIVER PTS BEHIND 1 Jimmie Johnson 6248 -- 2 Carl Edwards 6065 183 3 Greg Biffle 6063 185 4 Jeff Burton 6030 218 5 Kevin Harvick 5941 307 6 Jeff Gordon 5936 312 7 Clint Bowyer 5934 314 8 Tony Stewart 5847 401 9 Matt Kenseth 5835 413 10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5829 419 11 Denny Hamlin 5823 425 12 Kyle Busch 5783 465 *--*

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