K.C. victory surprises Edwards

Columbia native roars back in accident-filled O’Reilly Auto Parts 250.
Sunday, July 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:32 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Carl Edwards came back from a first-lap accident Saturday to win the Craftsman Truck Series Race at Kansas Speedway, his second victory of the season.

“I just can’t believe we won this race. It just doesn’t seem real,” Edwards said.

His Ford pulled away from Bobby Hamilton’s Dodge in the closing laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250.

After the triumph, Edwards, a Columbia native, celebrated with a backflip off the bed of his truck, a trick he has performed after previous wins.

Points leader Dennis Setzer struggled in the most caution-filled trucks race in the track’s four-year history.

After Setzer drifted wide and put Edwards into the wall on the first lap, Setzer dropped back into the pack, where he got caught up in a seven-car crash in the second lap.

He had to replace his oil cooler and radiator, fell 31 laps down before re-entering the race and finished 25th.

His lead over Edwards in the standings dropped from 131 points to 34, with Hamilton 61 points off the lead after his second-place finish.

“It’s way too early to be points racing for us,” Setzer said. “We just want to win races at this point.”

With qualifying rained out Friday, points determined the starting order, and Setzer was on the pole and Edwards on the outside front for Saturday’s race.

“I was pretty sure it was going to be a bad day after that first-lap incident,” said Edwards, who dropped to 33rd as his crew worked to replace his fender and two tires.

“I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. We were both probably racing just a little too hard, and Dennis got loose, which happens.”

Edwards, the runner-up here in 2003, was back in the top four after 31 laps in the 167-lap race and took the lead on the 146th lap.

Edwards won the season opener at Daytona, one of the nation’s most storied tracks, but this victory, coming about two hours west of Columbia, was sweeter.

“I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t cry after the checkered flag,” he said. “I thought there was something wrong with my truck when I pulled in to stop and do a backflip, because I heard this noise. I shut the engine off, and it was the crowd.”

The last of the day’s 10 yellow flags came out in the 155th lap, when Mike Skinner hit the wall in the backstretch. The green flag dropped with 10 laps left, and Hamilton never was able to make a move to retake the lead he held for 47 laps.

“We’d get fast a couple of laps, and then he’d even it out,” Hamilton said. “I would have needed more time. He drove a good race.”

Forty-four laps were run under caution Saturday; the previous record was eight cautions for 34 laps in last year’s race.

Rick Crawford was third in a Ford. Steve Park, Matt Crafton and Jon Wood followed.

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