Hampton, GA – Carl Edwards bounced back from an early-race road penalty and then held off Kyle Busch, as well as his other fellow Sprint Cup Series competitors Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne, in the closing laps to win Saturday night's Great Clips 300 Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Edwards, the pole sitter, received a penalty for equipment violation during his first pit stop in the 300-mile race. An air gun and hose got away from his stall after he pitted. Edwards fell to the tail end of the lead lap but quickly moved through the field and reclaimed the lead just past the halfway point.
After a restart with 27 laps remaining, Harvick passed Edwards for the lead. An accident involving Reed Sorenson and Trevor Bayne on the following lap forced the sixth and final caution. When the race resumed with 19 laps to go, Edwards moved ahead of Harvick to take the lead for good.
Busch took second from Harvick with less than 10 laps left and attempted to chase down Edwards, but Edwards crossed the finish line 0.7 seconds ahead of Busch for his sixth win of the season and the 35th of his Nationwide career. His first win in the series came in March 2005 at Atlanta.
"That was as hard as I could race out there," said Edwards, who led a race- high 101 laps. "Racing against Kyle, Kevin and Kasey was a lot of fun. This track is as good as it gets. It was a blast, and I can't wait for tomorrow [the 500-mile Sprint Cup race at Atlanta]."
Busch has yet to win in eight Nationwide races at Atlanta. Last week at Bristol, he surpassed Mark Martin for most career wins in the series with 50.
"We had a good car but just not good enough," Busch said. "We knew it would be a race against the Fords, and they were great under the hood. I just hated that we didn't have enough under the hood to run with them a little bit better."
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. overcame two lengthy pit stops to finish third and remain the points leader.
"We struggled there in the pits, but we were able to overcome it," he said. "We cut a right-front tire that almost caused us some trouble there."
Harvick took the fourth spot, while Kahne completed the top-five. Kahne won the pole for the Sprint Cup race earlier in the day.
Justin Allgaier, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Jason Leffler and Elliott Sadler finished sixth through 10th, respectively. Keselowski made his first start in the series since suffering a broken left ankle and a sore back from a crash while testing one month ago at Road Atlanta.
Stenhouse widened his lead to 13 points over Sadler. Sorenson fell to 40 points behind the lead after his 32nd-place finish.
Allgaier bumped into his Turner Motorsports teammate Sorenson, who then collected Bayne. Sorenson and Bayne hit the wall and suffered significant damage their cars, which put them out of the race.
Sorenson noted that he was not happy with Allgaier and planned to speak with him after the race. Allgaier accepted the blame and said he would apologize to his teammate.