Carl Edwards wins at Richmond; Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon out of Chase
RICHMOND, Va. - Clint Bowyer's spin with seven laps left opened the door for Carl Edwards to win Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 but left four-time champion Jeff Gordon and race leader Ryan Newman in the cold when the Chase for the Sprint Cup field was set.
"We're going to win the championship," Edwards predicted after his second victory of the season. "That's our mission. That seemed like a crazy idea a month ago."
Kurt Busch raced his way into the Chase by finishing second before Newman, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard, who led the race on the final restart with three laps remaining.
"Winning would have changed everything," said Newman, who had roared past Edwards to take the lead with 10 laps to race. "We should have been able to come on pit road first and come off pit road first if we were a championship-contending team."
Newman, who will be out of his ride with Stewart-Haas Racing at season's end and needed to win to make the Chase, refused to speculate if Bowyer might have spun intentionally to aid Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr., who made the Chase as a wild card.
"I didn't see [the incident]. I'm not going to speculate. It doesn't matter," Newman said. "If that was the case, I'll find out, one way or another. We still had the opportunity to create our own destiny and didn't."
Truex Jr., driving with a broken wrist, also positioned himself to join Kasey Kahne to earn wild-card spots in the Chase field as the drivers not in the top 10 in points with the most victories. "I didn't even know the 15 [Bowyer] brought out the caution until after the race," Truex said. "The last that I knew, the 22 [Joey Logano] had the last wild-card spot."
Four drivers who controlled their own destiny -- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Logano, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch -- did what they needed to clinch top 10 spots in the standings and a place in the Chase.
"It feels really good after such a rough night," Logano said.
"How bout them apples. We achieved something very special," said Busch, who put the single car team of Furniture Row Racing in the Chase for the first time. Busch will drive for Stewart-Haas next year. "I'm very happy to have been able to deliver for these guys."
Gordon, who had raced his way into the Chase at Richmond last year and Friday set a NASCAR record by winning a pole for the 21st consecutive season, led the first 49 laps. He appeared to be in position to make the Chase until the shuffle on the final laps.
Jimmie Johnson, the series points leader entering the race and Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, had trouble all night. Starting at the back of the pack because he'd attended the birth of his second child Friday, Johnson had electrical issues, then blew a tire with 55 laps left that caught many race leaders in the pits and put Edwards in position to win and move a point before Johnson.
The race was caution-free for the first 136 laps with Gordon, defending Sprint Cup champ Brad Keselowski, former series champ Busch and long shot Jamie McMurray leading at some point.
Keselowski, who won Friday's Nationwide Series race, had never led a lap in a Cup race at Richmond until he took the lead from Gordon on Lap 50. Keselowski led 142 of the race's first 268 laps but dropped to 17th in the late-race chaos and finished out of the Chase picture.