LAS VEGAS - Carl Edwards believed he should have opened the season with two wins, and the disappointment of missing Victory Lane carried with him into Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
When he finally broke through Sunday, it came at the expense of Tony Stewart.
Stewart led for 166 laps, but a pit road penalty forced his team to change its strategy. When he used two tires to get back to the lead, the entire field saw that it worked, and Stewart was backed into a corner.
He had to take four tires on his final stop, most everyone else took two, and the longer time spent on pit road shuffled him too far back into the field to make it back to the front.
Edwards pulled away for the win, while Stewart, who dropped to 22nd after the four-tire stop, unwittingly settled for second.
"We had the fastest thing on the planet today and we just gave it away," Stewart said. "It kills me to throw away a race like that."
Stewart was in second place on the final restart of the Daytona 500, but faded to a 13th-place finish. He then led 59 laps last week in Phoenix, only to finish seventh. Although yesterday's run moved him into the lead of the Sprint Cup Series standings, he was unable to take much solace in knowing he had cars capable of winning the first three races of the season.
"This was a big deal today," Stewart said. "And when you lead that many laps and have a car that's that fast and you lose it - I'm sure tomorrow when the emotion dies down we'll look back and say it was a great weekend, but just, man, it does not sit good right now."