Side Lines for Monday — November 07, 2005

• NASCAR points race tightens


NASCAR points race tightens

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

FORT WORTH, Texas — Carl Edwards just wouldn’t be denied in Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The 26-year-old wunderkind charged back from a late pit stop that dropped him to sixth place to pass Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin for the lead two laps from the end of the Dickies 500.

It was his second straight victory and thrust the surprising Edwards into the battle for the series championship with two races remaining.

Tony Stewart had a solid if unspectacular day. The 2002 champion finished sixth and saw his lead in the Chase for the championship drop from 43 points to just 38 over Jimmie Johnson, who managed to pass Stewart two laps from the end and finish fifth.

Edwards, who now has four victories in his first full season in Cup racing, jumped from a tie for fourth, 107 points behind, to solo possession of third, 77 behind Stewart.

“Four wins, man, I can’t believe it,” said Edwards, who stuck a perfect landing on his now-traditional backflip off the window of his No. 99 Ford.

“We’re not going to change a thing,” the winner added. “We’re out to win this championship and we’ll do it by having fun. That’s way, if we lose it, we’re still going to have fun.”

Debris brought out the sixth and final caution flag of the 334-lap race on lap 319 and both Edwards, who was leading, and fifth-place Stewart pitted for right-side tires, while Martin and several other leaders stayed on track.

Edwards was sixth when the green flag came back out on lap 323. He got caught in traffic for a while, but quickly moved to third, passed teammate Matt Kenseth for second on lap 330 and erased a 12-car lead by Martin before passing him on the outside coming off turn two on the 1.5-mile oval on lap 333.

“My hat’s off to Mark Martin,” Edwards said. “He almost won this race. It was only the tires that beat him; he had the best car.”

Martin didn’t agree.

“Carl was spectacular,” Martin said. “It was a great call. The right car won the race.”

Greg Biffle, who started the day third, finished 20th and slipped to fourth in the standings, 122 points behind. Martin moved up to sixth, one point behind teammate Biffle and 12 ahead of Kenseth, who finished third and gave the powerful Roush team its third 1-2-3 finish of the season.

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