Originally created 06/13/05

Edwards wins at Pocono



LONG POND, Pa. - Carl Edwards raced to his second Nextel Cup victory of the year Sunday, easily adjusting to a new gearing rule and avoiding the tire woes that plagued other drivers Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

The Missouri driver, who celebrated his first NASCAR Nextel Cup victory three months ago in Atlanta with a backflip from the window of his car, did it again Sunday - then credited the makers of a video game among other things for his win at a track he'd never seen before.

His Ford led 45 of 200 laps and beat the Chevrolet of Brian Vickers in a race that ended under caution on the 2.5-mile triangle. Edwards took the lead for the fourth and final time on lap 187. Vickers led six times for 121 laps, both race highs.

While he was winning, Edwards lost the points lead in the Busch Series because a rainout Saturday night in Nashville prevented him from racing there Sunday. Reed Sorenseon took the Busch lead and Edwards fell to fourth.

Edwards, who moved from ninth to fourth in the Nextel Cup standings, set a Pocono record for winning from the deepest in the field. He started 29th. Terry Labonte held the record by winning from the 27th position in 1995.

It was the seventh victory for Roush Racing in 14 races this season but its first here since the team entered the sport in 1988. Jack Roush's cars had 11 previous second-place finishes at Pocono.

Roush Racing, led by Greg Biffle with four victories, and Hendrick Motorsports, have combined to win all but two of the races.

Jimmie Johnson, who swept the races here last year and was trying to become only the third driver to win three in a row on the mountaintop, finished sixth and increased his points lead to 119 over Biffle. Biffle finished 30th.

The gearing rule being used at certain events was in force, making this the first Pocono race in many years without drivers downshifting to gain quick acceleration exiting the sharp turns. The rule is designed to cut rpms and reduce the number of engine failures.

There was just one of them among the 43 cars in this race on a hot and humid day when cut tires were the main problem for the drivers. Both Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in numerous times. Most of the cut tires were on the left front wheels, due perhaps to setups used to counter the lack of shifting.

Pocono and the road courses in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and Sonoma, Calif., are the only venues where downshifting made the cars go faster through the turns. Drivers will continue to change gears on the road circuits.

In an era where speeds continue to accelerate at most NASCAR tracks, Michael Waltrip's qualifying lap for this race was 169.052, down from Kahne's year-old track record 172.533.

Third in the $4.75 million race was Joe Nemechek in a Chevy. Next came the Chevy of rookie Kyle Busch and the that of Waltrip. After Johnson came Mark Mattin, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray.

The winner averaged 129.177 in a race slowed eight times by 32 of caution. There were 14 lead changes among seven drivers.