CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — Carl Edwards won for the first time in two seasons — and the first time since joining Joe Gibbs Racing — moving in front 20 laps from the end to take the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.
Edwards hadn’t won in 49 races since November 2013 at Texas Motor Speedway. He ended his long association with Roush Fenway Racing this past offseason, hoping for bigger things with JGR.
He got it at Charlotte Motor Speedway after shuffling in front as most of his competitors needed green-flag pit stops close to the end. Most figured Edwards would have to stop, too, but remained on the track and cruised to his first victory at Charlotte.
Greg Biffle was second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., pole-sitter Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr., who notched his 11th top-10 finish in 12 events this season.
Edwards parked his car, did his signature back flip and rushed into the waiting arms of his crew, all jumping around in celebration. He climbed into the stands to grab the checkered flag before heading to victory lane.
“JGR is back,” Edwards said.
The win gave JGR a Charlotte sweep, Denny Hamlin won the All-Star Race on May 16th.
Hamlin looked like he might gain the sweep on his own, leading the pack with less than 50 laps remaining. But Hamlin felt a vibration in a wheel and had no choice but to head to the pits to straighten out — costing him his chance at the victory.
Hamlin finished eighth. The fourth Joe Gibbs racer, new father Kyle Busch, was 11th in his first points race since breaking his right leg and left in a crash at Daytona three months ago.
Edwards capped racing’s biggest day. It began when Nico Rosberg got his third straight win at the Monaco Grand Prix. It continued in Indianapolis when one-time NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indy 500 for the second time.
Edwards joins Hamlin and Kenseth with wins this season, all figuring to make the Sprint Cup season-ending chase for the championship.