Carl Edwards claimed a rain-soaked Nascar win under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday (local time) after bad weather wreaked havoc on yet another Sprint Cup race this season.
The rain caused two delays lasting more than five hours - one that delayed the start Sunday by almost two hours, and another that stopped the race for 3 hours, 18 minutes.
Much like the season-opening Daytona 500, which was stopped by rain for almost six hours, the threat of more bad weather bringing a sudden halt to the race forced the drivers to go hard every single lap.
So when a caution with 77 laps remaining sent most of the field to pit road, Edwards' crew chief, Jimmy Fennig, made the call to leave his driver on the track. The move gave Edwards the lead on the restart with 70 laps remaining.
"I thought when Jimmy said we're going to stay out, I thought, 'Well, that's a good idea,"' Edwards said. "And then nobody stayed out around us, and I thought, 'Oh boy, that might not be the greatest thing.' It turned out to be perfect."
He had no trouble pulling out to an easy lead and had victory in sight when the yellow caution lights came on with two laps remaining.
No one was sure what the caution was for at the time. Nascar said after the race that someone in the flag stand accidentally leaned on a switch to trigger the lights. Nascar was forced to issue a full caution "because operation of the lights was comprised."
After the caution lights came on, the rain started again and Nascar had no choice but to declare the race over.
Edwards led Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. across the finish line. Aric Almirola from Richard Petty Motorsports was third, giving Ford drivers a sweep of the top three spots.
It was Edwards' 22nd career victory and third at Bristol.
Almirola said he wished the race had ended under different circumstances.
"It's frustrating because I had one shot to race Carl for the lead, and these races are so hard to win," he said. "It was a great day for us, I'm not disappointed at all with third, but when you see it and you can taste it and it's that close, you wonder what could have went different."
Tony Stewart salvaged a horrific start to the weekend - he qualified 37th - by finishing a season-best fourth.
Marcos Ambrose was fifth as both of RPM's drivers finished inside the top five.
Pole-sitter Denny Hamlin was sixth in the highest-finishing Toyota and was followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne. Brian Vickers was ninth and rookie Kyle Larson rounded out the top 10.
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