Carl Edwards put a whipping on the competition in Saturday’s Wypall 200 Nationwdie Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, easily winning the next-to-last event of the season.
Edwards carried a two-second lead for much of the second half of the race and steadily increased it over the closing laps, finishing five seconds in front of second-place Kevin Harvick.
The win was Edwards’ second straight in the series and fourth this season.
Edwards led 153 of the 200 laps, including the last 56.
“This is the best driving race car I’ve ever had in the Nationwide series,” Edwards said. “It was not the driver that was making the difference. It was the race car.”
Kyle Busch, who perhaps would have been Edwards’ most serious challenger, lost a lap in the pits because of a flat tire during a green-flag run.
The first half of the race featured strong runs by Aric Almirola, Edwards and Busch.
The race’s first caution flag flew on lap 22 as Mark Green’s car sputtered smoke, bringing the leaders to the pits for the first time.
A poor pit stop cost Edwards the lead, and Busch moved to the front, but Edwards responded quickly and returned to the lead.
On lap 62, caution slowed the race for the second time as Brendan Gaughan’s car spread debris on the track after a flat tire.
Edwards had a three-second lead when the field was slowed for the third time because of a crash by Martin Truex Jr., who slammed hard into the first-turn wall and pancaked the rear end of his car.
Edwards and Busch remained one-two after the caution-flag pit stops.
Busch later fell off the lead lap when a flat tire forced him to pit under green.
The second half of the race included an on-track altercation between Justin Allgaier and Almirola, who were racing for position. They traded bumps a couple of times and banged together again on the cooldown lap after the race. Minutes later, they engaged in an animated conversation about the incidents.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.