It almost ended badly for Carl Edwards but the Roush Fenway Racing managed to hang on at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 to claim his second victory of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, finishing just ahead of Jeff Gordon and breaking the streak Hendrick Motorsports had going when heading into Sonoma.
After five consecutive wins, finally someone not driving for Hendrick or in a Chevrolet finished first. Edwards won earlier this season at Bristol, and finished just ahead of Gordon, who had a very good look at trying to take the lead in the final lap but couldn’t pull it off. Edwards led for the final 25 laps after a restart, pulling him up towards the sixth spot in the overall standings, while Gordon holds the lead ahead of Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
My road racing progression, it’s been a pretty long climb. The real special part to me was to stand in Victory Lane at Sonoma and have Jeff Gordon come and give me a handshake as the second-place finisher. I grew up watching Jeff Gordon, and specifically watching how he drove this racetrack and all the successes he had here, so I mean, that’s really super. It’s something I’ll never forget.
It was Edwards’ 23rd career win but his first at Sonoma, which is also his first on a road track. He has never finished above third on this track, with the victory coming possibly due to taking a pit stop with 40 laps to go. A caution came out and crew chief Jimmy Fenning decided not to bring Edwards in a second time under yellow. That seemed to put Edwards in excellent position to take the lead, slowly making his way to the top spot over the next 15 laps.
If it wasn’t for a big mistake by Gordon during a turn with five laps to go, he might have had enough distance to catch up with Edwards, who has never been known to be the slickest of drivers. Gordon overdrove on that turn which forced him to compensate later on, and allowed Edwards to build enough of a lead that kept things safe for him despite the pressure bearing down on him in the final lap.
I just couldn’t put enough pressure on him. I think had I put some more pressure on him, I saw him really struggling with the tire grip level, but he did everything he needed to do. That last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him and he didn’t overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide up and I’d get a run on him.
Earnhardt Jr. finished third and was involved in a wreckage that took Matt Kenseth out of the race. He was followed by Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and Jimme Johnson, as Chevrolet cars took spots two through seven, with Hendrik having four drivers in the top 7. Marcos Ambrose was one of the three Ford drivers in the top 10, and he had a chance to win the race, taking the lead with 30 laps to go.
Ambrose passed Clint Bowyer who took the lead with 31 left to drive, but Bowyer, who finished an overall 10th, got a flat tire after getting passed by Ambrose. Due to the problem McMurray turned Bowyer, who stopped in the middle of the track. The bottleneck traffic resulted in Kevin Harvick running into Bowyer. A.J. Allmendinger led for 35 laps during the race, more than anyone else, but finished only 37th. Danica Patrick finished 18th.