Edwards’s pit strategy, Stewart's pit error equal win at Vegas
by Noel Lanier
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Edwards raises the coveted Kobalt Tool trophy in Victory Lane after winning the Kobalt Tools 400.
Carl Edwards held off Tony Stewart to claim the victory in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before more than 150,000 fans. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third, Marcos Ambrose was fourth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. Kyle Busch, entering the race as the series points leader, blew a tire and hit the wall on lap 108, and later blew an engine, sending him to the garage and a 38th place finish.

Last week's winner, Jeff Gordon, also blew a right front tire on lap 195, slammed the wall and ended his day behind the wall as well.

Stewart, who led 163 of the 267-lap race, made a costly error on lap 155 when he dragged an air wrench from his pit box. This mistake, coupled with some smart late race pit strategy by Edwards taking on only two tires, allowed Carl to claim his 19th career win, and third in the last five races, dating back to Phoenix in November.

"I've got to thank the Air Force, The Thunderbirds. They let me fly with them on Thursday, and this trophy is going over there in that hanger(a reference to nearby Nellis Air Force Base). They taught me a lot about discipline and about believing in what you do. I can't thank them enough."

Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his second straight top 10 and climbed to 10th in the series standings. Kyle Busch, with his 38th place finish, fell to 14th in the standings. The Sprint Cup Series takes a week off before returning to the 1/2 mile oval at Bristol.

Sprint Cup Standings after 3 races with points behind leader: 1/2. T. Stewart and Kurt Busch (tied) 3/4. C. Edwards and J. Montoya (-7) 5. R. Newman (-10) 6. P. Menard (-17) 7/8. M. Truex Jr. and D. Hamlin (-18) 9. AJ Allmendinger (-19) 10/11. D. Earnhardt Jr. and M. Martin (-22) 12. J. Johnson (-26).

In Saturday's Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 race, what else but a roll of the dice proved to be the right choice for Mark Martin. Once again, fuel mileage was a major factor at Vegas. Martin gambled by not pitting and stretching his fuel. At the time, Brad Keselowski was leading with one lap to go. However, a blown tire sent Keselowski into the wall on the final lap. The gamble by Martin to stay out and not pit allowed him to then pass Keselowski before running out of gas.

Martin's win was his 49th Nationwide Series win, keeping him five ahead of Kyle Busch. It was Martin's first win for Turner Motorsports, which merged with Braun Racing. Martin is running a limited series for Turner. Justin Allgaier, running full-time for Turner, finished second, giving Turner/Braun a 1-2 finish.

Of special note, Danica Patrick, who was two laps down at one point, also made a fuel-mileage gamble at the end and finished fourth. It marked the highest finish for a female driver in the series and the highest in any NASCAR series since Sara Christian finished fifth in 1949. Keselowski managed to finish third and Trevor Bayne was fifth.

Nationwide Series Standings after three races, with points behind leader: 1. R. Sorenson 2. R. Stenhouse Jr. (-2) 3. J. Leffler (-5) 4. D. Patrick (-13) 5. J. Allgaier (-16) 6. T. Bayne (-24) 7. A. Almirola (-26) 8. K. Wallace (-27) 9. M. Bliss (-29) 10. J. Nemechek (-32).

For more images from the action at Las Vegas visit www.NorthBeachPhotos.lifepics.com.

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