Edwards wins rain-soaked Bristol race

Carl Edwards won Sunday at Bristol for his first victory of the season.

Carl Edwards won Sunday at Bristol for his first victory of the season.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Carl Edwards took the lead by staying out under a caution with 78 laps remaining in the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday, and he remained up front the rest of the way.

"That's a gutsy call with all the tire trouble," Edwards said of crew chief Jimmy Fennig's decision to keep the car out. "Goodyear makes great tires. We didn't have trouble at the end, but it was just a bad matchup with the track."

Edwards earned his first win of the season and the third of his career at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second to give Roush Fenway Racing a one-two finish, while Richard Petty Motorsports teammates Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose finished third and fifth to give Ford four cars among the top five finishers.

"How about Ford?" Edwards said. "They make the greatest cars on the road, and for them to finish tonight 1-2-3-5, that's a big turnaround from the other night."

Tony Stewart finished fourth in his Chevrolet.

"To start 37th and end up fourth, I'm pretty excited," Stewart said.

After a rain delay of more than three hours, Matt Kenseth restarted the race with the lead on lap 125. He lost the lead to Kurt Busch on lap 153 and then received significant rear-end damage after contact from Timmy Hill during a caution on lap 156. After spending time on pit road for repairs, Kenseth restarted the race from the 29th position.

As Kenseth worked his way back up toward the front, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, and Kasey Kahne spent time in the race lead before Kenseth reassumed the position on a restart following a lap-276 caution in the 503-lap event.

Kenseth lost the lead to Kyle Larson on a restart following a lap-331 caution and then scrubbed the wall with 92 laps remaining.

Kevin Harvick took the lead by getting off pit road first during a lap-394 caution. Harvick subsequently gave up several positions when he pitted for tires during the yellow flag that came out with 78 laps to go.

Edwards then assumed the lead by staying out, and he ran up front as Harvick worked his way back up through the field. With 50 laps to go, Harvick's car began smoking and then made impact with the retaining wall. Right behind him, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray, both contenders early in the race, wrecked.

Edwards again stayed out, along with Almirola and Stenhouse, to restart the race in the top three. Amirola got by Stenhouse to take second with 33 laps to go, but Stenhouse quickly got back by him.

"We were fighting the balance," Stenhouse said. "We were a little bit loose and a little bit tight and could never really zone in on it, but Mike (Kelley, the crew chief,) made some good calls. We stayed out there and kept our track position and ended up second, so it was cool to have a 1-2 finish for Roush Fenway this weekend."

The race was ended with two laps remaining when the caution lights came on because of a malfunction. Soon after the caution was displayed, rains returned, and NASCAR called the results official.

Denny Hamlin finished sixth, Jeff Gordon was seventh, Kahne eighth, Brian Vickers ninth and Larson 10th.

The race was red-flagged because of rain with 124 of the 500 scheduled laps completed. The start of the race, originally scheduled for 1:13 p.m., was delayed nearly an hour and 45 minutes for rain.

At the time of the delay, Kenseth was in the lead, McMurray second and Keselowski third after coming off pit road in that order, just before the red flag. The race was already under caution, beginning on lap 118 for tire debris that came off of Jimmie Johnson's car.

Johnson took only left-side tires during a competition caution on lap 50 and remained on the race track when another caution came out one lap after the race returned to green.

"The tire has air in it and is fine over there, it's just the tread came off the top of it," Johnson said. "That slowed me down, lost control. I thought I had a flat. Came to pit road; the tire wasn't flat, but the tread isn't on it anymore."

According to Rick Heinrich of Goodyear, the problem resulted from excessive wear because Johnson had not changed right-side tires during his pit stop, in addition to the large amount of camber.

Hamlin started the race from the pole, with Keselowski alongside in second. As soon as the race began, Hamlin lost several positions, and Keselowski's Team Penske teammate Joey Logano moved toward the front, giving Penske the top two positions in the running order.

Johnson took the lead by getting off pit road after his two-tire change during the competition caution, with Logano in second and Kenseth in third. After the second caution soon after, Kenseth took the lead, as Johnson slowed for his tire issue and Logano dropped back because of a power-steering issue.

"There's so much load here, and the car is pressing so hard down on the race track that it makes it so hard to steer," Logano said. "It feels like it's working against you. I was already huffing and puffing pretty hard, trying to get the thing to turn."

By lap 114, McMurray was up to second behind Kenseth while Logano fell off the lead lap. Four laps later, the yellow flag waved for Johnson's tire issue, and then another six laps later, the red flag was displayed.

NOTES: Carl Edwards' win was the sixth victory for crew chief Jimmy Fennig. ... While the win was Edwards' third at Bristol, it was his first in the March race. ... Edwards claimed his 22nd career victory. ... Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s second-place finish and Aric Almirola's third-place finish were career bests. ... Denny Hamlin's pole-winning lap was a track qualifying record.