DOVER, Del. - It might not be pretty, but NASCAR is getting exactly what it wants - a compelling Chase for the Championship. And in the process the sport managed to throw in a little controversy as well.
Carl Edwards' victory in the Dodge Dealers 400 Sunday created a logjam atop the playoff standings. Four drivers left Dover International Speedway within four points from the lead.
That all could change today or Tuesday when NASCAR finishes its inspection of Edwards' No. 99 Office Depot Ford. It failed post-race inspection - the right-rear fender was too low - and the sanctioning body took the car back to its research and development department for further evaluation. Infractions in the past usually have resulted in reduction of points and monetary fines.
Edwards led 74 of the final 80 laps and that track position kept him ahead of two multi-car crashes in the final 35 laps. While everyone else was unhooking from wreckers or complaining about the Car of Tomorrow, Edwards was doing his customary back flip at the finish line.
While nobody's been hurt in 13 selected races, competition has suffered. A week earlier at New Hampshire, Clint Bowyer led 222 of 300 laps in the new car. Kenseth and Edwards combined to lead 287 of 400 laps.
Even more telling Sunday, there were only six cars finished on the lead lap.
Even Edwards had problems early when his gas pedal kept sticking. After that, Edwards had no trouble getting to the front.
"This place has huge potential for disaster," Edwards said. "When we fixed the throttle and dropped back to 24th, it looked like a mess. It was Russian roulette to me. There's no room for error here."
Jeff Gordon leads the Chase standings by two points over Tony Stewart, three over Edwards and four over Jimmie Johnson.
Reach Don Coble at email@example.com.
Chase for the championship
1. Jeff Gordon 5,340
2. Tony Stewart 5,338
3. Carl Edwards 5,337
4. Jimmie Johnson 5,336
5. Kyle Busch 5,330
6. Clint Bowyer 5,322
7. Martin Truex Jr. 5,294
8. Jeff Burton 5,265
9. Kevin Harvick 5,225
10. Matt Kenseth 5,224
11. Kurt Busch 5,189
12. Denny Hamlin 5,182
What: Kansas 400
Where: Kansas Speedway
When: 2 p.m. Sunday
TV: ABC-Ch. 6
Defending Champion: Tony Stewart