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NASCAR Notebook: Bad pit stop keeps Edwards from threepeat

Associated Press
The NASCAR notebook …
FORT WORTH, Texas ó Carl Edwards looked like he might deny Jeff Gordon his first Texas win while getting his third straight Sunday.
The final pit stop with 30 laps to go changed everything.
Edwards went to pit road with the lead just a few laps after he overtook the four-time Sprint Cup champion, who was struggling to keep his car under control. Moments later, Gordon’s crew was celebrating wildly, while a problem with a tire change left Edwards angry.
The only three-time Sprint Cup winner at Texas Motor Speedway dropped an astonishing 10 spots because of the mistake and was relegated to spectator for Gordon’s historic win.
As mad as he looked in the car after leaving the pits, Edwards chose the philosophical route after the race.
“They don’t yell at me when I hit the wall, so it’s not my position to be mad at them,” said Edwards, who settled for 10th. “We just have to do whatever we can to fix it.”
Edwards spent most of the day in the bottom half of the top 10 before surging to the front after a restart with about 80 laps to go. He looked a little faster than Gordon when the final caution came out, raising the stakes for the pit stop.
All the crews figured the winner of the pit stop would win the race, and Gordon proved it.
“You never know how the result would have changed had Carl not had his problems,” Gordon said. “All I know is we had a great pit stop.”

BRIEFLY UP FRONT: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was out front coming out of a caution about 75 laps from the end, but the lead disappeared in a hurry.
Trying to keep from going two laps down, Kyle Busch tried to make a move and slid up the track. Earnhardt said he didn’t hit Busch, but he had to swing way wide, almost into the wall, to avoid contact.
Earnhardt dropped to fifth quickly and later hit the wall. He finished 20th, same as his starting position.
“He had gotten his car a little bit better and saw an opportunity to try to get his laps back,” Earnhardt said of Busch. “Tough deal. He races really aggressively.”
Earnhardt said he spun his tires on the restart, giving Busch hope for a pass. Trailing closely, Gordon saw it differently.
“I thought he had a good restart,” Gordon said of Earnhardt. “It’s just that (Busch) obviously came out of nowhere. He just shot up there. It was a big moment that I thought we were going to have a heck of a wreck.”

SOLID STEWART: Tony Stewart finished fourth, one spot shy of his best with his new Stewart-Haas Racing team. But this might have been his most solid effort.
After starting seventh, Stewart ran in the top five all day and led four times for 16 laps.
“The car owner is happy, the driver is ticked off,” Stewart said.

MORE PITFALLS: Pole sitter David Reutimann knocked himself out of contention about halfway through the race by missing his pit box. The one-lap penalty knocked from the top five to the back half of the field.
Reutimann eventually got the lap back on a caution and finished 11th.

GOIN’ OLD SCHOOL: Kyle Busch drove with a throwback Bobby Labonte paint scheme to pay homage to the Texan who used to drive the No. 18 car.
Busch, normally in the yellow M&M’s car, drove a green Interstate Batteries car Sunday, just like the veteran Corpus Christi native used to do.

AWESTRUCK BUSH: New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush experienced his first Sprint Cup race Sunday. The former Heisman Trophy winner was in awe.
“The amount of people that come out for this is three times any football game I’ve ever played in,” he said.
He even forgot that he once played for a national championship in front of about 100,000 people at the Rose Bowl, overestimating the announced crowd of 176,300.
“The amount of people that come out for this is three times any football game I’ve ever played in,” he said.

ATTENDANCE DROP: Add the biggest sporting event in Texas to the list of victims of the economy. The spring race had its lowest attendance to date at 176,300, about 13,700 lower than last spring.
The spring numbers in Texas have been down since a fall race was added in 2005, but Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage was prepared for even lower numbers this year.

NUTS AND BOLTS: Sunday’s race blew away the Texas record for the latest caution flag. The first caution came on Lap 98 for debris. The previous record was 64 laps in the 2006 spring race. … Mark Martin celebrated the 28th anniversary of his first Sprint Cup race in 1981 at North Wilkesboro. Martin finished sixth in his 729th career race.


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