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Edwards becomes latest to practically make Chase

March 16, 2014, Staff report,

Roush Fenway Racing driver becomes fourth different driver to win in 2014

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:

Pos. Driver Chase berth
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
12. Kasey Kahne
11th in points
13. Greg Biffle
12th in points
14. Austin Dillon 13th in points
15. Kyle Busch 14th in points
16. Marcos Ambrose 15th in points


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