With the 2012 Olympic Games on their penultimate night in London, it was somewhat fitting that back in the U.S. someone would end up sticking the landing on his victory celebration.
Indeed, Carl Edwards got the chance to perform his first trademark back flip of the calendar year in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen. Edwards made the winning pass on Brad Keselowski with 10 laps to go around the outside of Turn 2 off a restart, and then held off Keselowski and fellow Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish Jr. on a final restart with two laps remaining to score his first victory in either Nationwide or Sprint Cup this year. It was Edwards' first Nationwide start of the season.
“I went in extra hard, but missed my downshift, and he got next to me before I beat him through,” Edwards explained the winning move. “Brad and I raced really clean. This is huge for us; it's nice to be in victory lane.”
Although Keselowski was disappointed to miss out on another win opportunity, he had a fun day regardless and coupled with Hornish ending behind him, it was a refreshing and needed good day for the Penske organization. Hornish's third was another top-five finish of late, following ones in Indianapolis and Iowa, and came after his first career NASCAR pole taken earlier in the day.
“It was a difficult (last) restart,” Hornish said. “It was one of those things where had to make sure we didn't open up the bottom. But racing with Brad and Kyle (Busch) all day feels good.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished fourth ahead of Ron Fellows, top of the Nationwide “road course ringers” for JR Motorsports up from 15th to fifth. Kyle Busch was sixth.
Points leader Elliott Sadler did well in terms of damage limitations with a 12th-place result while a flat right front tire in the race's waning stages demoted Austin Dillon to just 23rd place. Sadler now leads Stenhouse by 13 points, with Hornish moving ahead of Dillon for third in the title chase.
Danica Patrick's race ended before it ever had the chance to get going. While minding her own business, Ryan Truex turned in early and ran off course at the first turn on the first lap, and merged back into traffic right in front of Patrick, who was powerless to stop and avoid contact. That damaged her radiator and repair efforts went for naught, relegating her to a last-place finish.
“One thing leads to the next in these situations,” she sighed. “On my lap going back out, it took a long time to get to fourth gear. When we got the radiator changed, there was still water coming out of the tailpipes. Water isn't supposed to come out! I feel so bad. That's this sport, there's a lot that's out of your control.”
The series heads for Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Quebec next week, the third and last road course event of the season and second in a row.