Edwards captures first Watkins Glen victory

Carl Edwards made his 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series debut at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, a track that he and his team had never won at.

After running almost the entire Nationwide schedule in 2011, Edwards and his Roush-Fenway team announced that he would focus on the Cup Series for the 2012 season and not run in the Nationwide Series.

That was before sponsorship came along for him and the No.60 Ford, for the Watkins Glen race, and Edwards made the most out of his first and so far only Nationwide start of the season.

Edwards started the day in the second position and held on to one of the top-five starts for much of the day, but he wasn’t quite able to take the top spot from the Dodges of Sam Hornish Jr. and Brad Keselowski for most of the day.

“This is huge for us,” Edwards said after the race to ABC crews. “It’s nice to be in victory lane.”

Then, after the final round of green flag pit stops, Edwards was still in the top-five but needed to find a way to break through. Then the No. 88 of Cole Whitt went to hard into the bus stop- chicane area of the track and caused a debris caution.

On the restart, Edwards started in the fourth position, but was able to get around the top two drivers to take the lead in the esses. However, Keselowski, who had the dominant car for most of the day, wasn’t going to let Edwards escape with the win easily.

Keselowski ran down Edwards in turn six and by turn seven they were side by side.

Coming down the front stretch, Edwards was able to pull slightly ahead of Keselowski as the two entered turn one and went into the esses. Edwards briefly lost the lead as Keselowski was able to use the outside line to his advantage, but by the time the two got to the backstretch, it was Edwards that had the advantage as they entered the bus stop chicane area of the track.

Edwards started to pull away, but then Austin Dillon blew a tire and brought out the fifth and final caution of the day.

It turned out that the battle between Edwards and Keselowski wasn’t over quite yet.

On the next restart, Edwards rocketed off the start, but as he went into turns six and seven, Keselowski was able to make time up on him and challenge him for the lead.

“”I hate to admit it I missed a downshift,” Edwards said to ABC crew members after the race about his entry into turn six on that final restart.  “I went in there extra hard.”

Once again as the two wend down the front stretch, Edwards and Keselowski were side by side, but this time Edwards was on the inside and Keselowski on the outside.

Edwards was the first to get into turn one and, once again, he was able to pull away going through the esses. By the time the drivers got to turn six, Edwards had pulled away and didn’t have to worry about missing a shift.

“That was a heck of a battle,” Edwards said about the duel that he and Keselowski had late in the race. “Fun day.”

Saturday’s win was the first time that Edwards has won at Watkins Glen, delivering the first Nationwide Series victory at Watkins Glen International for the Roush-Fenway Racing at the New York road course.

“Glad to be back,” Edwards said about making his first start in the NNS in 2012. “Everyone is so nice to me in this series.”

Keselowski and Hornish battled each other for the second and third spots with Keslowski winning that battle. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought home a fourth place finish while Ron Fellows finished the day in fifth.

Sadler held onto the points lead over Stenhouse Jr.

Next week the series will be at another road course as they will travel north of the border to Montreal for the annual race at Circuit Gilles Villeneueve.

Zippo 200 results:

  1. Carl Edwards
  2. Brad Keselowski
  3. Sam Hornish Jr.
  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  5. Ron Fellows
  6. Kyle Busch
  7. Kasey Kahne
  8. Paul Menard
  9. Justin Allgaier
  10. Brian Scott
  11. Michael Annett
  12. Ellottt Sadler
  13. Miguel Paludo
  14. Mike Bliss
  15. Ryan Truex
  16. Victor Gonzales Jr.
  17. Jason Bowles
  18. Mike Wallace
  19. Jeremy Clements
  20. Kenny Habul
  21. Kyle Kelley
  22. Joey Logano
  23. Austin Dillon
  24. Cole Whitt
  25. Tim Connolly
  26. Eric McClure
  27. Joe Nemechek
  28. Tony Raines
  29. Alex Kennedy
  30. Daryl Harr
  31. J.J. Yeley
  32. Dexter Stacey
  33. Morgan Shepherd
  34. Eric Curran
  35. Timmy Hill
  36. Matthew Bell
  37. Chris Cook
  38. Alex Popow
  39. Josh Wise
  40. Jeff Green
  41. Matt DiBenedetto
  42. Stephen Leicht
  43. Danica Patrick