Edwards Wins at Atlanta, Johnson Extends Cup Lead

After walking away with the Nationwide win at Memphis on Saturday, Carl Edwards scored a two-in-a-row on Sunday after clinching his 7th Cup win of the season at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Starting from 4th on the grid, the #99 Ford began challenging for the win from the race's very first lap. It took him 45 laps to get into 1st place, but failed to build a comfortable lead up front and soon lost it.

Edwards later took advantage of the penultimate restart and overtook 1st place Denny Hamlin to get into the lead once again. The Missourian managed to keep that position until the finish line, despite Jimmie Johnson coming strong in the dying laps of the race.

“Man, the second-to-last restart, Denny spun his tires and I spun mine a little bit and then he spun them again and I pushed his bumper and then he spun them again and he went to the inside. I thought inside, 'Man, here's my chance to get to the outside,' I really didn't think he was going to spin them that second time. I thought I was going to bump him and he was going to keep on going and I figured I'd follow him for a while, but it just worked out great,” said Edwards after the race.

Nevertheless, it was still Johnson to walk out of Atlanta with a big smile on his face, as his runner-up spot in Georgia helped him extend his lead in the overall classification to 183 points with only 3 races to go. Runner-up in the standings is now Edwards, whose win in Atlanta got him 2 points ahead of 3rd place Greg Biffle.

With 8 laps to go, Johnson decided to pit for all 4 tires – before the last restart of the day – and returned to the track in 11th place. Thanks to the increased grip from all his tires, the reigning Cup champion slowly advanced in the race and soon caught up with second place Denny Hamlin with only 2 laps to go. Luckily for Edwards, the chequered flag was waved one lap later and he was able to end the weekend with a 2-out-of-2 performance.

“Man, I felt like I went 12 rounds with Tyson today. That was a long, long race for us. I made that mistake getting onto pitroad I guess. I've heard it was in and off pitroad. I'm not sure where. But somewhere I was speeding had to do that pass-through on green flag conditions. It just killed us.We just fought back from that all day long. We could make up some ground, but we could only get to seventh, sixth, something like that. The cars were all pretty equal in front of us on speed. We just kind of hung there and couldn't go anywhere,” explained Johnson after the race.

The Californian will most likely walk out this season with another Cup title under his belt, as he only needs to finish 10th or best in the last 3 races to secure a third consecutive crown (tying Cale Yarborough' record of 3 Cup titles in a row).
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