CONCORD, North Carolina—
Carl Edwards' No. 99 crew didn't win Thursday's Sprint Pit Crew Challenge—they waited until it really counted.
Flawless work during mandatory four-tire pit stops before the final 10-lap shootout in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway got Edwards off pit road first, ahead of Kyle Busch. That proved decisive in Edwards' first All-Star win as he became the eighth different winner of the event in the last eight years.
Edwards, who finished .443 seconds ahead of runner-up Busch, collected $1.2 million for the victory. David Reutimann ran third, followed by Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.
About the only thing that went wrong was Edwards' slide through the frontstretch grass after taking the checkered flag. Edwards hit the infield sod and destroyed the front end of his No. 99 Ford. Edwards thought he hit a drain, but track officials said there was nothing but grass there.
"I had no idea that drain was there," Edwards said, after executing his customary celebratory backflip to perfection. "I guess NASCAR's mad, because they think we're hiding something with that car."
Asked what was responsible for the victory, Edwards was definitive in his analysis.
"The key to winning this race are the guys behind me," Edwards said, gesturing toward his crew. "(Crew chief) Bob Osborne and my guys—especially the guys on pit road—they could have dropped the ball. That's all the pressure in the world on those guys.
"They performed a flawless pit stop, and we got out in front of Kyle. He is a bear on those restarts, and if we had started behind him, I think it would have been really tough. It's unbelievable. I feel so bad about tearing up the car, but Bob says he has a faster one for next week (for the May 29 Coca-Cola 600), so I'm pretty excited. …
"It still hasn't sunk in yet. This is the All-Star Race, and we just won it—it's crazy."
Busch, who had fallen out of four of five previous All-Star Races, was happy to finish and conceded that he was beaten by a faster car.