Edwards flips for delayed victory

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FONTANA, Calif. -- Carl Edwards didn't care if he had to race in the rain Sunday night at the Auto Club Speedway. He also didn't care if the race ended under bright sunshine on Monday.

His Ford was that good.

"I figured we had them right where we wanted them," Edwards said Monday after winning the rain-plagued race. "I'd like to think that it really wouldn't matter if we raced (Sunday) night or (Monday). We had a good car. It just added another variable, and that was fun."

The race started three hours late on Sunday. Rain and cracks in the track that seeped water also played into an hour-long red-flag period. But a late shower created another delay that didn't end until Monday afternoon.

NASCAR worked for more than three hours late Sunday to dry out the two-mile track. They finally gave up at 2 a.m. ET. If they had been able to re-start, the main event wouldn't have ended until at least 4:30 a.m. on the East Coast.

The delays were frustrating for everyone, including the handful of fans who braved through all the delays Sunday night. But through it all, Edwards remained calm. And confident.

"The reason we won the race is preparation," he said after passing Jimmie Johnson with 13 laps to go and winning under caution with a 50-yard lead. "This is what we prepared for. The tougher it gets, the more competitive it is. If we had a 55-hour red flag, we're still going to go out there and race as hard as possible. That's what we prepare for. I enjoy that kind of stuff."

Johnson was the leader when NASCAR finally admitted Sunday night it couldn't keep water from gushing between the cracks in the third and fourth turns. Edwards was ninth. Once everyone returned Monday -- and the sun finally broke through -- Edwards' car came alive. It easily rebounded from a slow pit stop with 26 laps to go. He came into the pits with the lead, but left in fourth place.

Thirteen laps later, however, he was back out front -- and pulling away.

"We were just a little too loose off the corners to really run with the 99 (Edwards) there," Johnson said. "The guys did all they could do to give me track position. I just couldn't hang onto it. I was just so loose off the corners to do anything with Carl."

Johnson led a race-best 76 laps. Jeff Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate who finished third, led 68. But they faded during the stretch drive with Edwards.

"Nobody was going to beat Carl Edwards today," Gordon said. "They were in a league of their own."

Kyle Busch wound up fourth, followed by Matt Kenseth in fifth, Martin Truex Jr. in sixth, Tony Stewart in seventh, Kevin Harvick in eighth, Kasey Kahne in ninth and Ryan Newman in 10th.

The starting lineup was set by the NASCAR rule book after rain washed out qualifying on Friday. Rain pushed Saturday's Nationwide Series race back to Monday afternoon and limited practice for the Auto Club 500 to just a handful of laps.

The start on Sunday was just as problematic. Denny Hamlin crashed after slipping in water in the second turn. Casey Mears hit another puddle to trigger a four-car crash that included Dale Earnhardt Jr., Sam Hornish Jr. and Reed Sorenson.

While body was hurt in any of the wrecks, all were upset about the slippery conditions.

"We got going a little too soon," Earnhardt said Sunday. "The racetrack was a little dirty and everybody was losing grip, and there were a lot of wet spots out there. When you do run over them wet spots and you do the best you can; everybody is just trying to ride. This track isn't ready today. It was a bad move (to race)."

The overnight delay lasted 15 hours, 49 minutes. When the race resumed, drivers were careful to avoid the watery seams.

"We all had to sit and wait through the rain delays," Edwards said after earning $340,500. "We've all had things where anxiety builds up and stuff like that."

Edwards did his customary back-flip after winning. Minutes later, he was driving 300 more miles in the Nationwide Series race.

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