CONCORD, N.C. — Carl Edwards grabbed the lead away from Casey Mears on a restart with six laps to go and pulled away to win the Busch Series race Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Edwards had been right on Mears’ bumper for the final 18 laps, but had trouble passing him. The 12th caution came out with nine to go and it gave Edwards one final chance to grab the victory.
But Mears was trying to go the final 88 laps on one tank of gas and the same set of tires. His fuel light had come on shortly before the restart, and he apparently had a pick-up problem on the restart.
As Mears’ car paused, Edwards shot right by him and drove away for his first Busch win of the year.
“Casey was doing such a great job, but our team was really good, also,” Edwards said. “Our car so great. I had a plan. I was really going to juke him a little bit on that last restart and I was sad to see him lose it that way.”
Edwards’ win made Nextel Cup regulars a perfect 13-for-13 in Busch races this season.
Kurt Busch finished second, J.J. Yeley was third and Mears recovered to finish fourth.
“It’s pretty frustrating, I don’t know what I have to do to win a race,” said Mears, winless in all NASCAR competition. “We lead these races and something happens that we don’t win. We gambled to win this race, that’s what we’re here to do. It was running good and we’re on the straightaway and just didn’t pick up enough fuel.
“It starved itself for fuel on the restart.”
Martin Truex Jr. finished fifth, Jeff Burton was sixth and was followed by Jimmie Johnson and Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick, who came from two laps down.
Clint Bowyer, who came into the race second in the points standings, crashed early so Harvick now has a 348-point lead over Edwards.
“The race car helped us out, but it was a good night, a good rebound and that’s what makes championships,” Harvick said.
Todd Kleuver was ninth, the highest finishing Busch driver.
Nextel Cup drivers Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart were both taken to a hospital for evaluations following separate accidents early in the race.
McMurray hit the wall just three laps into the race.
“That hurt,” he said. “It was probably one of the biggest hits I’ve ever taken.”
Stewart hit almost the same place seven laps later, and was rubbing his right shoulder when he got out of the car.
“I have one spot on my right shoulder blade that is really sore, so I’m going to get some X-rays,” he said.
Both drivers were released after quick checkups, and both were cleared to race Sunday night in the Coca-Cola 600.
Also, debris from a late caution went into the stands and hit two spectators. Track spokesman Jerry Gappens said the fans received only minor injuries.
MU TRACK & FIELD: The Tigers track and field team finished competing in the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday. The Tigers had the best regional finish in school history with eight athletes, three women and five men, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championship with a number of others eligible for at-large consideration.
The Tiger men finished fifth with 36 points in team competition, breaking into the top-10 for the first time ever. LSU won the men’s team competition, the first time in school history, with 71 points.
The Tiger women finished ninth with 23 points, matching the team’s all-time best finish and points scored record. The LSU women won the team competition for the third time in four years with 95 1/2 points.
Automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Championship on the women’s side include Ashley Patten (Sr.) who finished first in the 800-meter run in 2:05.67, Amanda Bales (Sr.) who finished fourth in the 1500-meter run with a season-best 4:19.45, and Serena Ramsey (Sr.) who finished fourth in the 5000-meter run in 16:30.89 on Friday.
As for the men’s side, Marcus Mayes (Jr.) finished second in the 800-meter run in 1:49.02, Nate Englin (So.) finished second in shot put with 18.42 meters (60” 5 1/4’), Bill Hobson (Jr.) finished fourth in shot put with an outdoor personal best of 17.76 meters (58” 3¼’). On Friday, Jason Morris (So.) finished second in the hammer throw with 63.87 meters and Bobby Musil (Jr.) finished fifth in the hammer throw with 61.80 meters.
Neville Miller (Sr.), who was ranked in the top-ten in the nation, finished 22nd overall in the 800-meter on Friday after being run over and mixed up with a Central Michigan runner. A protest on Miller’s behalf was filed and initially granted placing him in the 800-meter finals. Later, Central Michigan filed an appeal saying their runner could not fairly qualify either. The games committee consulted the track referees who said they could not clearly see the collision for their vantage point. As a result, the verdict placing Miller in the finals was overturned.
NCAA track and field Championships will take place June 7-10 in Sacramento, California. Portions of the meet will be televised on CSTV Friday, June 9 and on CBS Saturday, June 10.