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Carl Edwards makes it two NASCAR wins in a row

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Carl Edwards nudged teammate Kyle Busch aside on the final turn to win the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday. The victory was the second straight for Edwards following last week’s win at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards had a strong car all day, leading for a race-high 151 laps. It did not appear he would have enough time to pass Busch after chasing the defending Sprint Cup champion for more than 30 laps.

On the final lap, Edwards made his move on the final turn. He ducked low, then gently bumped Busch out of the way and beat him to the finish line.

“I was doing everything I could,” said Edwards from Victory Lane. “He went to get down at the bottom and park it in (turns) three and four. I had already decided to go down there, so I gave him a little nudge.”

The heroics by Edwards marked the first time a Richmond race winner was determined by a last-lap pass. NASCAR began racing there in 1953.

Finishing third was Jimmie Johnson followed by Kasey Kahne with Kevin Harvick, the pole sitter, finishing fifth. Tony Stewart made his 2016 season debut after sitting out with an injury following a dune buggy crash. He finished in the 19th position.

As the race wound toward the finish, Kurt Busch seemed to be the member of that family most destined for a victory. He maintained a steady lead until a caution forced a pit stop with 40 laps remaining.

Kyle’s crew managed a 10.5-second stop to claim the lead. Kurt came out fifth when the race resumed with 36 laps remaining, but was not a factor, finishing 10th.

Kyle led for 78 of the 400 laps, Harvick for 63 laps, Kurt for 55 and Johnson for 44.  With the victory, Edwards takes over the Sprint Cup points lead with 331, followed by Harvick with 324 and Johnson with 310.

The three-quarter-mile Richmond track is the last short track until later in the season. Next Sunday the series moves to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway for the GEICO 500.

For a track well known for huge wrecks, an auto insurance sponsor is entirely appropriate.

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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