Edwards becomes latest to practically make Chase
March 16, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Roush Fenway Racing driver becomes fourth different driver to win in 2014
MORE: Full race results | Series standings
RELATED: Full coverage of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format changes | Official news release | Changes explained | Chase Facts and FAQ | Bracket (PDF)
After a disappointing showing in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards will likely have a shot to redeem himself this year.
With his win at Bristol Motor Speedway, Edwards becomes the fourth driver to virtually clinch a spot in the Chase. He led the final 78 laps of the race to win for the third time in his career at Bristol and the 22nd time in his Sprint Cup Series career.
"How about this new Chase format guys," Edwards told reporters after the race. "It's awesome isn't it?"
"I guess I'm part of a group of guys that can go have some fun and focus on the final 10 races to get to this championship. I've been a little bit jealous of those guys who have wins this early in the season. I was thinking today, I can't imagine what it must be like to be able to come to the racetrack like this and have all that pressure off of you, so now we'll get to go have some fun. I'm really excited about the next 22 races. That'll be a blast."
Edwards won the race on a yellow-checkered finish as a caution was triggered by a track-light malfunction. The full caution was thrown when the operation of those lights became compromised. The skies opened shortly after that.
Last week, Brad Keselowski earned a win as Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas in the final at Las Vegas.
Earnhardt was the first to take advantage of the new format's emphasis on winning regular-season races, adding a sticker emblazoned with "Winner" above the driver's side window after prevailing in the season-opening Daytona 500.
Kevin Harvick won the second race of the season at Phoenix and has fallen to 21st in the points standings. As long as he remains in the top 30 after 26 races, Harvick will have earned a spot in the 10-race playoffs, concluding with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
If Edwards, Keselowski, Harvick or Earnhardt Jr. were to win again this season, they would be guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
After the fourth race of NASCAR's regular season, here is how the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings look:
|1.||Brad Keselowski||Winner: Las Vegas|
|2.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Winner: Daytona|
|3.||Carl Edwards||Winner: Bristol|
|4.||Kevin Harvick||Winner: Phoenix|
|5.||Jeff Gordon||4th in points|
|6.||Jimmie Johnson||5th in points|
|7.||Joey Logano||6th in points|
|8.||Denny Hamlin||7th in points|
|9.||Matt Kenseth||8th in points|
|10.||Ryan Newman||9th in points|
|11.||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
||10th in points|
||11th in points|
||12th in points|
|14.||Austin Dillon||13th in points|
|15.||Kyle Busch||14th in points|
|16.||Marcos Ambrose||15th in points|