Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Carl Edwards claimed his first Sprint Cup Series win of the season and with Joe Gibbs Racing after he conserved enough fuel in the late going of Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- NASCAR's longest race of the season.
Edwards joined JGR at the start of this season to drive the team's new fourth car, the No. 19 Toyota. He snapped a 31-race winless streak in the series. After he and crew chief Darian Grubb elected not to pit during a late-race round of stops, Edwards took over the lead with 21 laps to go and then crossed the finish line 4.8 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Greg Biffle.
It was the 24th career win for Edwards in NASCAR's premier series but his first since last June on the Sonoma, California road course. He drove for Roush Fenway Racing in the series from 2004-13.
Edwards delivered Toyota its 300th total points victory across NASCAR's three national touring series -- 68 Sprint Cup, 100 Xfinity Series and 132 Camping World Truck Series wins. It came in the same race of the auto manufacturer's 300th start in Cup competition. Toyota joined the series in 2007.
All four of JGR's Toyotas finished among the top-11 in this 600-mile event. Matt Kenseth, the pole sitter, placed fourth. Denny Hamlin was eighth and Kyle Busch 11th. Hamlin won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at this track on May 16.
"JGR is back, and these Toyotas are great," said Edwards, who drove the final 62 laps without pitting. "I was the slowest of the group tonight, and I just had the best guys on the pit box here. They did a great job ... What a big day of racing. I can't believe we won this race."
Edwards' win capped off a big day in motorsports. Nico Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix for the third year in a row earlier in the day before Juan Pablo Montoya claimed his second victory in the Indianapolis 500. Montoya competed in Sprint Cup full-time from 2007-13 before he moved over to the IndyCar Series last year to drive for Team Penske. He gave team owner Roger Penske his record-extending 16th win in the Indy 500.
After the Charlotte race had finished, Edwards stopped his car on track, got out and did his signature backflip. He then ran over to the flag stand to capture the checkered flag before heading into the grandstands along the start/finish line to celebrate with the fans.
Prior to Charlotte, Edwards had only scored one top-10 finish in the first 11 races of the season. He placed 10th in the April 11 event at Texas. Edwards became the ninth different driver to win a race this year. It virtually guarantees him a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
"I feel like this is a gift," Edwards said. "As much as I've been frustrated, this is truly a gift. I'm going to take advantage of it and enjoy it, and we'll get better."
It was the first time Edwards had won a Sprint Cup race at Charlotte in 21 starts here.
Hamlin led the way late in the race but had to pit unexpectedly with 37 laps to go due to a loose wheel. He was also suffering from a migraine headache at the time and had to receive treatment at the track's infield medical care center after the finish.
Busch competed in his first Sprint Cup points-paying race this season after he suffered a fractured right leg and left foot during an accident in the Feb. 21 Xfinity Series race at Daytona. He ran all 400 laps around this 1.5-mile track and scored his first 33 points this year.
"I feel pretty good," Busch said after the race. "All in all, I felt like that was a great race for us. We ran really strong. We ran up front, and we showed that we had some speed."
Erik Jones, a development driver for Gibbs, was on standby for Busch if he needed to be relieved.
"I admit that I've probably got a little left foot soreness, but other than that, everything is pretty hunky-dory," Busch added.
Earlier in the week, Busch's wife, Samantha, delivered the couple's first child -- a boy.
Biffle, who is Edwards' former teammate, also gambled on fuel in the late going and had just enough gas to get his Roush Fenway Racing Ford across the finish line in second. He was trying to end a 69-race winless drought in the series.
"You know, I got pretty close to (Edwards) there, but with two laps to go, the fuel light came on," Biffle said. "The fuel pressure was low, so I had to start pushing the clutch in and shutting it off and coasting and trying to preserve what fuel I had to make it back. So excited to see the checkered flag. I wasn't sure I was going to stretch two laps of gas out."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, while Martin Truex Jr. came in fifth after leading the most laps with 131.
"It hurts to come home fifth and run that hard, but at the same time, it's pretty awesome to run like that," Truex said. "We've just got to keep plugging away, and sooner or later, we're going to get a little bit of luck on our side."
Ryan Newman placed sixth, followed by Brad Keselowski. Kevin Harvick, the defending Sprint Cup champion, and Kurt Busch completed the top-10. Busch led a total of 118 laps.
Jimmie Johnson, who won last year's Coca-Cola 600, finished 40th after he was involved in an accident on lap 274 and spent close to 30 laps in the garage for repairs. Johnson spun out while exiting turn 4 and then pounded the inside wall at the entrance of pit road. A SAFER barrier had recently been installed on the wall where Johnson hit. He also spun in the same area but did not hit anything on lap 90.
"Just a loose race car," Johnson said. "My car was fine in clean air, but in traffic, gosh, it was so wicked, out of control and unpredictable."
Johnson holds the record for most wins at Charlotte with seven.