Edwards Wins Phoenix NASCAR Nationwide Race, Busch Fails to Clinch Championship

November 14, 2009 Updated: November 15, 2009

Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Valvoline/O'Reilly Auto Parts Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 14, 2009. (Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Valvoline/O'Reilly Auto Parts Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 14, 2009. (Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Carl Edwards won the NASCAR Nationwide Able Body Labor 200 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 14, frustrating Kyle Busch’s hopes to clinch the championship early. Busch spun on lap seven, damaging his car too badly to keep up with the frontrunners, while Edwards led the field through much of the race by more than five seconds

“That’s twenty-five, twenty-five wins,” Edwards said happily, after the race. “I know Kyle’s almost clinched the championship, but that’s what we came here to do is to win this race.”

Kyle Busch pushed his #18 NOS Toyota up to ninth, despite serious damage to the left front and right rear. He didn't clinch the title at Phoenix, but he almost certainly will at Homestead. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch pushed his #18 NOS Toyota up to ninth, despite serious damage to the left front and right rear. He didn't clinch the title at Phoenix, but he almost certainly will at Homestead. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Edwards’ win, coupled with Kyle Busch’s early accident, extends the championship race until the season closer at Homestead next weekend, where Busch will win if he starts.

Busch’s early spin was apparently the result of a front-end problem which his crew was never able to fix. His handling problems were compounded by severe body damage from the crash. Despite the damage, he pushed his car hard enough to finish ninth, after dropping back to 35th after the wreck.

Busch need to finish seventh or better to take the title deal, if Edwards took the victory. Through sheer determination, Busch worked his way up to seventh in the closing laps, but didn’t have enough car to hold his position; Matt Kenseth and Michael Bliss forced their way through.

Busch is still all but guaranteed to win the championship; as long as he starts at Homestead, the title is his. Kyle had wanted to win the championship with a win at Phoenix, rather than winning by default, but this was not his week.

Denny Hamlin led for much of the first half of the race, but once Carl Edwards took over on lap 97, Hamlin's chances for victory evaporated. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin led for much of the first half of the race, but once Carl Edwards took over on lap 97, Hamlin's chances for victory evaporated. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Deny Hamlin, who took the pole with a track record, swapped the lead with Edwards early on, then held it until a restart on lap 97. Hamlin chose to start from the outside, testing to see which lane was better. As it happened, the outside was the wrong side; Hamlin got loose and got passed by a few cars. He never regained the lead.

Hamlin was involved in some ugly drama later in the race. On lap 158, Hamlin tapped Brad Keslowski in Turn Two. Keslowski came back and hit Hamlin twice, the second blow coming just as Hamlin entered Turn Three. Keslowski spun Hamlin, who hit the wall hard, damaging his car and bringing out a yellow. Hamlin, who had been running fourth, finished twelfth after repairing the damage.

Brad Keselowski generated some controversy by wrecking Denny Hamlin on lap 158. Keslowski finished fifth, Hamlin, twelfth. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski generated some controversy by wrecking Denny Hamlin on lap 158. Keslowski finished fifth, Hamlin, twelfth. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Keslowski and Hamlin have a history of unpleasant interactions, which some feel led to today’s incident.

After the race, Keslowski seemed not to make much of the incident, while Hamlin promised revenge at Homestead.

“From what I could tell, Denny got in the back of me and pushed me up the track, and I was going to return the favor what he did to me,” Keslowski explained. “I saved it; what I did to him, he didn’t save it. We just got in a pushing match I don’t really hold any grudges and I don’t know why he wanted to do that, but whatever; that’s just the way racing is, I guess.”

Denny Hamlin seemed a bit less understanding.

Carl Edwards in the #60 Valvoline/O'Reilly Auto Parts Ford, leads Kevin Harvick in the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Able Body Labor 200. Harvick finished second, but never seriously challenged Edwards.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Carl Edwards in the #60 Valvoline/O'Reilly Auto Parts Ford, leads Kevin Harvick in the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Able Body Labor 200. Harvick finished second, but never seriously challenged Edwards.(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
“I can sit here and bash him for the next twenty seconds, and give you all a bunch of sound bites and everything,” he said, “But I am just happy I signed up for next week’s Nationwide race. There’s a lot of guys that owe him, there’s a lot of guys that have a lot of chips that they are going to cash in I am just going to be the first at the pay window.”

Keslowski has caused many wrecks this season, and many drivers have complained about his overly aggressive, driving. When asked in NASACR needed to do something about it, Hamlin replied, No, no, I’ll take care of him
Hamlin and Keslowski have a history of unpleasant interactions.

The NASCAR Nationwide season comes to a close with the Ford 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida on November 21. Visit the Homestead-Miami Speedway Web site for ticket information, and MyRaceTravel.com for travel arrangements.

NASCAR Nationwide Able Body Labor 200

 

#

Driver

Gap

Points

1

60

Carl Edwards

0.000

5297

2

33

Kevin Harvick

2.416

3248

3

32

Reed Sorenson

2.786

1059

4

29

Clint Bowyer

3.887

1750

5

88

Brad Keselowski

4.167

5242

6

6

David Ragan

5.268

2632

7

16

Matt Kenseth

7.187

1858

8

11

Mike Bliss

9.729

3960

9

18

Kyle Busch

10.832

5512

10

66

Steve Wallace

11.388

3860

11

27

Jason Keller

11.604

3831

12

20

Denny Hamlin

12.489

569