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Carl! Finally a victory backflip...

Carl! Finally a victory backflip...

Carl Edwards! (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Carl Edwards, almost exactly two years to the day since his last NASCAR tour win, finally got to do another victorious backflip, and stormed into the grandstands to celebrate his first Sprint Cup win with new crew chief Jimmy Fennig Sunday afternoon in the Phoenix 500K.
   It was a crash-filled race, with right-front tires popping too regularly, possibly from excessive brake heat, a not infrequent issue at this flat one-mile track on the west side of the U.S.' 12th biggest metropolitan area.
   "Jimmy Fennig is the man. His pit crew won this race for us," Edwards said, almost beside himself. "We're back."
   Edwards took the lead on a late round of pit stops under yellow at Phoenix International Raceway and managed to stretch his fuel the final 80 miles or so. A last yellow for Ken Schrader's crash set up a green-white-checkered two-lap overtime sprint.
   Edwards on the inside, Jimmie Johnson on the outside, and Edwards got a great start, with help from Brad Keselowski.
   Edwards' last Sprint Cup win was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 6, 2011. That was the season that Edwards dominated, with consistency if not wins....until Tony Stewart's playoff charge. Edwards and Stewart finished that season tied in points, with Stewart getting the title because of more wins.
   Last season, in contrast, was all but a disaster for Edwards, who never really got on track.
   "I try to stay positive...but I was about to get mad," Edwards said, at the questions about his long losing streak.
   Now he goes to Las Vegas for next weekend's 400-miler back on his game....and maybe with those five Daytona  crashes buried deep in memory.
   Unlike the season opener, this race was filled with action...mostly with unpredictability, with this new 2013 stocker and its many chassis and aerodynamic changes.
   Goodyear came with a different tire, after a tire test last fall. Drivers have complained about tires here since the 2011 repave. However again drivers were griping. And what Goodyear engineers do in response could be interesting, since this track plays host to the next to last race of the season, thus a key race in the championship chase.


Juan Pablo Montoya (42) had his moments  (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   "The tire is so hard, you could really run a whole race on the left sides," third-place surprise Denny Hamlin said. "We really didn't have much today. Just scrambled at the end. Hopefully when we get to some tracks with tire wear it will be different."
   Hamlin provided some late-race thrills with his last-lap pass on the apron from fourth to second, catching Johnson and Brad Keselowski unawares. Johnson managed to squeeze Hamlin at the line, by barely a foot, to take second.
   "We ran out crossing the start-finish line," Keselowski said. "If we couldn't win, I'm glad to see another Ford win."
   Keselowski is the newest addition to NASCAR's Team Ford, and he literally pushed is new teammate across the final starting line, to help Edwards beat Johnson to the first turn.
   One of the day's big stories was Dale Earnhardt Jr. He once was a power here, but lately he hasn't done that well. But Sunday Earnhardt came on strong in the second half of the three-hour race.

   Flip! (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Keselowski, who had a great run at Daytona too, was again a late-race bloomer.
   "I gave Carl a good push into turn one," Keselowski said of his end-game. "I wish I would have used the run to try and make a pass, but I don't think I could have pulled it off without wrecking Carl.
    "And then I was running side-by-side with Jimmie and Denny..."

    Edwards looked home-free, until the Schrader crash: "I thought for the last few laps it was going to be easy...and then they had that caution.
   "It was an awesome restart.  Brad pushed me, and that meant a lot.  I've got to thank Brad."

   However Johnson said Edwards played with the restarting line: "I felt Carl didn't follow the restart protocol and was slower than the pace car on his last two restarts.  It gives the leader a huge advantage.
    "You're supposed to wait until you get between the two (red) lines (on the outside wall), and take off.
    "You're supposed to maintain the speed of the pace car. So I maintained the speed of the pace car... and Carl is dropping back. 
    "At some point you can't see the guy to know when he's going to accelerate. If he can get you looking, and get out of your sight and punch it, you never have a chance to recover."

   A big issue, of course, was the raceability of the new 2013s. And the verdict was not that impressive...not for a car that has supposedly been some three years in development.
   Keselowski's view of the new car, Round Two?
   Clean air, he says, "is probably more important than ever."
   That is not good.
    On the plus side, Keselowski says "these cars probably drive easier than any car I've ever driven in my life, by themselves...and probably the hardest to drive of any car I've ever driven in traffic."
   Tweaking the 2013s was clearly needed after the Daytona 500. Now?


 Pit road problems.... (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  Another issue here: tires
  David Regan was one of the victims, when Danica Patrick's car bounced off the wall right into him after she blew a right front: "A lot of people were having tire issues," Regan said. "I saw her blew the tire I never thought she'd come across the track that fast."

   Patrick confirmed she blew a right-front. "No real warning.
    "I wasn't that tight either. I was sliding a little bit. Most of the day I was chasing the rear.
    "It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left."

     Hamlin wasn't happy. And this is one of his better tracks.
    "We just struggled," Hamlin griped. "Definitely have some work to do.
    "I don't want to be the pessimist, but it did not race as good as our generation-five cars. (That's the ill-fated COT.) This is more like what the generation-five was at the beginning.  
    "You just run single-file, and you cannot get around the guy in front of you.  
     "You would have placed me 20th with 30 to go, and I would have stayed there,  I wouldn't have moved up.
    "Track position is everything."


  Right-front tire problems sidelined Danica Patrick. And she wasn't alone (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Edwards had to play with the restart, perhaps, Hamlin figured because "I was thinking the whole time it was actually Jimmie's race to win.
   "Usually the guy who can get to the outside into turn one can typically be the guy in the catbird seat off turn two."

   Remember Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon the last time in Phoenix?
   Neither was a player this time.
   Bowyer: "Unfortunately the only thing I saw was a problem all day was the tires.  A lot of the guys are having tire issues."

   Matt Kenseth again had a strong car. He liked the downforce. But he said "The goal is always to get them easier to pass
    "I'm sure NASCAR is going to adjust and try to make it a little bit easier for the rear cars to catch somebody.  
    "You couldn't really get close to anybody, and that made it tough to pass."

    Johnson, pointing out that with all the recent track repaves the asphalt composition has become an issue, said speed might be something for NASCAR to consider: "The faster we go, the narrower track, and the harder it is to pass. 
    "Speeds will be up (with the new cars), especially when we get to the 1-1/2-miles.
    "I think we need to leave the cars alone for a good 10 or 20 years.  Let the teams be."

  Once again, not a good day for Kyle Busch (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



I'm glad to see someone celebrating the victory of Carl instead of lamenting the wreck of the good ship Danica. It was a long hard fight for more than just Carl, the whole Ford camp has been under a cloud for the last few years. Maybe they've got it together this year, and maybe they should be looking at Jack'e tenure as the 'Cat in the Hat'. Ever since his airplane's failure to interface with the earth, The organization in the Ford area has been off just a tick. The energy of his whole enterprise, which runs ALL of Ford's NASCAR doings, reflects his passion. As he ages, the energy has waned, and it might be time for Jack to rest a little.

And to comment on the tire problems...I don't care what Ms Behavin' says, her tire went because she was abusing it. That is true for everyone up against the wall. The tire didn't just go, it popped because it ran out of stamina, because it was leaned on too hard, because the setup was unbalanced, because a bad car uses tires. The winners weren't burning tires until the end, Ms Reble, and the tires just didn't 'let go'


nascar had the best racing with the wicker bill across the top and on the back spoiler.The air flows so good over these new cars that it packs air between the cars.

It will take some kind of wicker bill to make the air go up and over the car behind it.If they don't do it there is no way they can race at daytona and talladega. Reducing the spoiler size will just enhance the pocket of air as seen at daytona and even smaller tracks now.

With the efi the cowl opening can't really be played with to make the cars suck up on the superspeedways.The only way is with a wicker bill.Rounding the back bumpers off will also enhance the air movement.

The biggest thing is nascar needs to do away with the bump stops on the front.The cars are so sealed down to the track its impossible for the cars not to pack air behind them.If nascar wants to do something at daytona issue front shocks and let the teams do what they want with the rear shocks to give the teams some much needed leeway.Raising the cars up in the front will make the most difference.

Since nascar has issued the rear shocks and have gotten so technical with the body's teams can't do anything.Put the wicker back on and raise the front up and the only way to do that is do away with the bump stops.

dw what the hell?

What has happened to dw.Where is the man who wanted to whip everyone at the local kmart parking lot . Where is the man who went toe to toe with sr and would call out nascar if he thought he was right.

Why oh why did you sit there and let tony stewart own you on national tv.Dw you are a 3 time nascar champ so start acting like it.You don't need to kneel down to anyone at any time.You are in the hall of fame not for sucking up to danica's ass but for standing up to nascar and saying what you think is right.Nascar has enough yes men.

If Danica had come along when you where at your prime you would have called her out as a dog and pony show.Now you just yelp out the danica praise. She's won 1 race in 12 yrs and been in the best equipment money can buy.She left andretti to come to nascar and the andretti teams stars winning again.

Stand up and tell the world she's not ready for cup hell she needs to be in the truck series if she wants to gain experience and win.Kinser coulden't do it and hornish coulden't and both where the best in there series. Johanna long is a nascar driver.She is trying to get a top ride by proving she has talent.Every nascar fan loves johanna long!

Dw if one of your daughters wanted to race would you want her to progress the way johanna long has by earning respect of the other drivers .

The nascar commercial for vegas...Danica and Jimmie lead the field to vegas.Really Danica deserves top billing over a 5 time champ.What in the hell is wrong with that.She sits on a pole[best car ] and leads 4 laps when the leaders pit and now she the top billing.

Dw you flash your cup rings and hall of fame rings. You diden't get into the hall by riding around in 25th.You got there by hard work and dedication and now you sit there and praise everything Danica.No she's not doing good and we all know it.The regular nascar fan are not idiots.

We get it she has a nice butt and is sorta cute but she in no way deserves to be praised upon by cheapening the sport.The only thing danica has done for racing is showing little girls that if you flash the goods there is no limit to your fame.

Dw get your set out of nascars purse and call the race.If she does good great call on it if she sucks like usual call it.Don't cheapen the sport you helped make great. I'm no sr fan but if he were still here he'd call it bs.He has to be rolling over in his grave.

Dale would be ashamed of the way the sport has cheapened up and he's kick your ass for selling out the true nascar fans.No doubt shes making millions but a top driver she'll never be because she knows nothing about a cup car and decided she diden't need to learn.She can't win a truck race let alone contend for a cup win and you know it.

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