Clint Bowyer claimed his first Nationwide Series win of the season in the Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Bowyer started from pole and crossed the finish line first, but a lot happened in between during the 102 laps of racing. The current Nationwide Series champion led for nearly half the distance, taking turns at the front of the field with some of his fellow Sprint Cup drivers, who set the tone for most of the night.
With six laps remaining the caution came out due to a multi-car incident at Turn 1. Bowyer was leading the pack ahead of Edwards, who was on fresher tires, while Kyle Busch followed them at the time, setting up an interesting final sprint following the final restart of the race with two laps remaining.
When the green flag waved Bowyer got pushed by Busch to the front, while Edwards tried to keep up on the outside with Brad Keselowski glued to his rear bumper. However, Bowyer's lane gained more momentum and as they started the final lap, the caution came out for another incident on the front stretch, which virtually sealed victory for him.
"I can't begin to tell you what this place means to me," Bowyer said after winning his first race at Daytona. "The wolves were coming after we decided to stay out on that caution and not take tyres. I got nervous when I saw Harvick and [Kenseth] and [Carl Edwards] coming on new tires.
"But Kyle gave me a good push there right at the end. Luckily the caution came out and who knows what would've happened on that last lap but our car was pretty fast tonight."
Bowyer's win is only the first for Richard Childress Racing this year as the team has endured a tough season especially in the Sprint Cup Series, where none of the squad's four drivers are currently ranked among the top-12 in the standings.
Busch was trying to set up a last-lap move with teammate Joey Logano, but his attempt was cut short by the final caution of the day. He led 14 laps during the race and admitted he didn't have the car to beat, suggesting he was down on power to Bowyer's Chevrolet.
"We're proud of that second-place effort. That's the best we had," Busch said. "Clint's car was better than ours tonight. We've got some work to do before we come back here but a lot of that work is going to be under the hood.
"Mark [Cronquist engine builder] has got some homework to do when we come back here but the car is going to be different anyway. We've got Nationwide CoT's here next time."
Carl Edwards didn't lead any laps while his team-mates did, but he was Roush Fenway's winning card in the end. The former Nationwide Series champion had taken on a new set of tyres during a late caution due to suspected cut tire, and had the race run until the final lap under green, he might have been more of a threat to Bowyer.
"That was close," said Edwards. "I didn't know whether to take tires or not. I mean, these Goodyear tyres that they brought here are perfect. They give up, they put a little strategy into the race and our car was really good there at the end.
"I was cheating a little bit because I had those tires but when I was following Clint, I know he's a dirt racer and I know he can hang on for a long time but he was getting looser and looser.
"I just hated to see that restart that I had to go to the outside. Keselowski pushed me and didn't spin me out. That was awesome. In the end it was a great points' day."
Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five ahead of Keselowski, Vickers and Penske rookie Justin Allgaier.
Dale Earnhardt Jr took part in the race but he was involved in an incident on lap 58, which brought his night to an early end.
Kyle Busch continues to lead the championship with 172 points over Edwards, while Keselowski ranks third.RESULTS:
Pos Driver Make Laps
1. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 102
2. Kyle Busch Toyota 102
3. Carl Edwards Ford 102
4. Joey Logano Toyota 102
5. Kasey Kahne Toyota 102
6. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 102
7. Brian Vickers Toyota 102
8. Justin Allgaier Dodge 102
9. David Ragan Ford 102
10. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 102
11. Michael Waltrip Toyota 102
12. Steve Wallace Chevrolet 102
13. Michael McDowell Toyota 102
14. Matt Kenseth Ford 102
15. Matt Carter Ford 102
16. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 102
17. Brendan Gaughan Chevrolet 102
18. Scott Lagasse Jr Toyota 102
19. Jason Leffler Toyota 102
20. Bobby Gerhart Chevrolet 102
21. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 102
22. Jason Keller Ford 102
23. Tony Raines Chevrolet 102
24. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 102
25. John Borneman III Ford 101
26. Robert Richardson Jr Chevrolet 101
27. David Gilliland Dodge 101
28. Eric McClure Ford 101
29. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 100
30. Danny O'Quinn Jr Chevrolet 99
31. Mike Harmon Chevrolet 97
32. Morgan Shepherd Chevrolet 95
33. Kertus Davis Chevrolet 94
34. Jeff Green Chevrolet 94
35. Michael Annett Toyota 84
36. John Wes Townley Ford 81
37. Chase Austin Chevrolet 76
38. Kerry Earnhardt Chevrolet 76
39. Mark Green Chevrolet 62
40. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 58
41. Patrick Sheltra Dodge 57
42. Donnie Neuenberger Chevrolet 9
43. Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 2