Edwards speeds to Pepsi 300 win

Associated Press • Apr 7, 2007 at 9:48 AM

GLADEVILLE, Tenn. - Carl Edwards raced to his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series victory, easily winning the Pepsi 300 in chilly conditions Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway to extend his lead in the season standings.

The Nextel Cup driver led the final 25 laps and crossed the finish line 4.7 seconds ahead of David Reutimann. Dave Blaney, who was involved in an early fracas, rallied to finish third. Jason Leffler was fourth, followed by Regan Smith.

"I don't know if I've ever raced this cold, maybe on a local racetrack, but it was a pretty chilly day to race," Edwards said. "The cars are usually 40-50 degrees warmer than outside so it was a great day to be a race car driver as far as comfort."

The winner struggled with an early handling problem, but crew chief Pierre Kuettel was able to resolve the issue

"I felt really confident going in, like it was our race to lose," Edwards said. "Then they dropped the green flag and we went backward like a rock. I was really nervous there. But P.K. and the guys did a great job of regrouping. They made some pretty good-sized changes for this place and the car got better."

With temperatures in the 30s and 40s, the crews had to adjust to the cold conditions.

"It had cooled off a lot more than I thought, so we made some wholesale changes with air pressure and the car came back to life," Kuettel said. "We lost two spots in the pits but as good as the car was we knew he would get it back."

Edwards led a race-high 74 laps, all in the second half of the event, to win for the 11th time in the Busch Series. He has won the past two Busch races at Nashville and also has won in the Craftsman Truck Series on the 1.3-mile concrete oval.

Edwards relinquished the lead to Leffler during a pit stop on lap 183, but gradually reeled him in before retaking the lead for good on lap 201.

Edwards, whose traditional back flip followed the win, padded his series lead to 321 points over Blaney. Even though it was only the seventh of 35 races, Edwards' rivals conceded that he will be difficult to catch.

"That guys' tough anywhere," Reutimann said. "We could race golf carts out here and he'd be tough. He's a great guy and has a great team. Unless something breaks or he gets run over or something, that's the guy."

Blaney and Reutimann also were victims of hard luck during the race. Blaney was running third when he was popped from behind by Johnny Sauter short of the halfway mark, and Reutimann lost track position when the gas can got stuck during a pit stop.

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