Carl Edwards is the hottest driver in NASCAR lately. Lately being the key word. His win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 400 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway yesterday was his third win in five races going back to the end of the 2010 season, where Edwards won the last two.
In spite of Tony Stewart?s domination, leading 163 of 267 laps and looking to have the race well in hand, it was Edwards hoisting the big wrench trophy in victory lane, not Stewart. But it was Stewart who showed Bob Osborne, Edwards? crew chief, how to do it.
A penalty for an equipment violation on a pit stop took Tony Stewart out of the lead and set up a string of events that lead to his race being lost. On a subsequent stop, the team took on only two tires to gain track position and get back in the lead. Even with only two fresh tires, Stewart?s car was still good enough to run away from the field, and everybody up and down pit road, including Bob Osborne, noticed.
On the final round of stops, Osborn elected to change only two tires on Edwards? car while Stewart had no choice but to take on four fresh Goodyears. And that was the difference in the race. Try as he might, Stewart just couldn?t run down Edwards in time.
"Somebody will have to explain to me how we lost this race today. . . ?An obviously upset Stewart said on the radio after the checkered flag waved and he finished second in a race he should?ve won.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway remains one of only two tracks on which Tony Stewart has not won a Cup race, the other being Darlington.
Edwards? win is his first of 2011 and the 19th of his career.
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Danica Patrick continues to improve. In Saturday?s Nationwide Series race her fourth place finish was the highest ever for a female driver in a top NASCAR touring series. You have to go back more than 60 years to 1949 when Sarah Christian finished fifth in a race at Heidelberg Raceway, a half mile dirt track near Pittsburg, PA. Sara was ten laps behind winner Lee Petty, but before you laugh, you should know that second place finisher Dick Linder was five laps down!
Patrick is now the first woman to lead a lap at Indianapolis and Daytona, the first woman to win a major open wheel race, (She won an Indy Car event at Motegi in Japan) and now she is the first woman to finish in the top four in a NASCAR touring series race.
Danica has said she?s not as interested in setting records for female race drivers as she is in winning and just being thought of as a racer first. Her performance in Las Vegas should leave no doubt that she is on the right track.
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