SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Carl Edwards has never been known for his road racing skills — to the point team owner Jack Roush had to send him testing in a two-seater so Boris Said could teach him the basics.
A decade later, Edwards finally has a win to show for his hard work.
And, he beat road racing ace Jeff Gordon to get to Victory Lane on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, where Gordon leads all drivers with five wins.
"My road racing progression, it's been a pretty long climb," Edwards said. "The real special part to me was to stand in Victory Lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second-place finisher. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon, and specifically watching how he drove this race track and all the successes he had here, so I mean, that's really super. It's something I'll never forget."
Edwards' win made Roush Fenway Racing the unlikely organization to end Hendrick Motorsports' five-race winning streak. And, the win came a week after Roush was shut out at Michigan, where the organization failed to put a car in the top 10 for the first time since 2000.
Edwards took the lead on a restart with 25 laps remaining and seemed to have the win wrapped up until Gordon nearly chased him down on the final lap. Gordon had one good look at Edwards and couldn't pull off the pass.
"That last lap was ugly," Edwards said of trying to hold off Gordon.
It wasn't a terrible day for the Hendrick organization, which had won every Sprint Cup Series race since Gordon's victory at Kansas on May 10. Instead, HMS settled for all four of its drivers finishing in the top seven.
Gordon, the Sprint Cup Series points leader, wound up second. He said he made one mistake in overdriving a turn with about five laps to go that allowed Edwards to build a healthy lead.
"I just couldn't put enough pressure on him," Gordon said. "I think had I put some more pressure on him, I saw him really struggling with the (tire) grip level, but he did everything he needed to do. That last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him and he didn't overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide up and I'd get a run on him."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third after rallying from an incident that wrecked Matt Kenseth, and was apologetic on the radio and after the race.
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