Reality halts Edwards at Kansas Speedway
Kansas City, Kan. In the video-game world, maybe Carl Edwards pulls off the unimaginable feat in his streaking red and white race car. Maybe Edwards blows by Jimmie Johnson at full speed on the final lap — in the final turn, no less — without consequences, to win on his home track.
In the real world, the laws of physics can’t allow Edwards to pass Johnson low without sliding up the asphalt, smacking the wall and finishing in second place. The fairy tale ending must wait until another year.
Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway, Edwards tested the gas with everything he had, but it wasn’t quite enough. Johnson fended off Edwards’ furious rally down the last straightaway to win the Camping World RV 400 in wild fashion.
“Always wanted to kind of try to do that,” Edwards said, managing a smile afterward. “Now I know it doesn’t work quite the same as video games.”
With the victory, Johnson leapfrogged Edwards for first place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings — from 10 back to 10 in front — and he appears primed to make a run at a third consecutive Chase title.
Edwards, who hails from Columbia, Mo., considers the Speedway to be his own and said he simply did not want to settle for second in front of so many zealous Edwards diehards.
He certainly didn’t need to go for broke, risk a crash and a possible shot at the Sprint Cup championship. This weekend’s race only was the third in the 10-week-long Chase.
“I just figured, ‘Man, I’m not going to be able to live with myself,’” Edwards said. “It’s going to be hard enough to go to sleep today, but there’s no way I’d sleep a wink if I didn’t try something on the last lap. You got to try.”
Johnson said he thought his positioning was in great shape for a victory with two laps to go. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, he saw Edwards charging hard with less than half a mile remaining in the race.
“Next thing you know, that car goes flying by,” Johnson said. “I knew instantly, there was no damn way he’s making the turn. … I was so in awe of how fast he drove it in, I watched him pound the wall and jump back on the gas. I thought, ‘Man, he’s serious about this win.’”
Greg Biffle, who entered the weekend tied for second in points with Johnson, pushed by Jeff Gordon at the finish line to capture third. In doing so, he remained in third place overall behind Edwards and Johnson in the Sprint Cup standings — a race that is shaping up to be a three-person affair.
“I doubt whether it will go all 10 races like this, this tight,” Biffle said, “but it might.”
Emporia native Clint Bowyer finished 12th.
Edwards began the day in 34th place following a rough qualifying session Friday, while Johnson started in row one as the pole sitter. Edwards took his first lead on lap 176, and the race turned into a two-man battle the rest of the way.
Edwards did his best to grace the post-race podium with a sense of humor. But he couldn’t help asking himself: What if?
“Man, I just wanted to win this race,” Edwards said. “I wish we could start it right now and run it again.”