The Norman Transcript

National Sports

March 17, 2014

Edwards leads Ford sweep at rain-soaked Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Carl Edwards claimed a rain-soaked win at Bristol Motor Speedway, where weather wreaked havoc on yet another Sprint Cup race.

The rain caused two delays lasting more than five hours — one that delayed the start Sunday by almost two hours, and one that stopped the race for 3 hours, 18 minutes. But when the drivers got on the track, they raced fast and furious.

Much like the season-opening Daytona 500, which was stopped by rain for almost six hours, the threat of more bad weather bringing a sudden halt to the race forced the drivers to go hard every single lap.

So when a caution with 77 laps remaining sent most of the field to pit road, Edwards’ crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, made the call to leave his driver on the track. The move gave Edwards the lead on the restart with 70 laps remaining.

He had no trouble pulling out to an easy lead and had victory in sight when the yellow caution lights came on with two laps remaining. No one was sure what the caution was for and Fennig even wondered if water damage might have inadvertently caused the lights to turn on.

Then the sky suddenly opened and NASCAR had no choice but to declare the race over.

NASCAR said after the race that the lights malfunction triggered the final caution, and officials made it a full caution “because operation of the lights was comprised.”

Edwards led Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. across the finish line. Aric Almirola from Richard Petty Motorsports was third as Ford drivers swept the top three spots — one day after a Ford team won the Twelve Hours of Sebring sports car race for the first time since 1969.

Tony Stewart salvaged a horrific start to the weekend — he qualified 37th — by finishing a season-best fourth.

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