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Edwards Gets First Victory Of The Season

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 19 2010

Carl Edwards got his first victory of the Nationwide Series Saturday when he won at Road America. (NASCAR photo by James H. Heine/Editorial Solutions)

Carl Edwards passed Jacques Villeneuve for the lead in Turn One on a restart with nine laps to go and went on to win the Bucyrus 200 Nationwide series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. on Saturday afternoon.

Edwards, who had started from the pole and dominated the race at the 4.048-mile road course until pitting for a splash of  fuel with 17 laps to go, had to survive a restart with three laps to go.

He did and then pulled away to win by over 4 seconds.

“It feels good,” Edwards said. “To race with Jacques Villeneuve all day, to hold off Ron Fellows, it just feels good. This is really special.”

The victory was the first of the season – in Nationwide or Sprint Cup – for the 2007 series champion. It was the first for a Ford in either series.

The lack of practice did not hurt his form when he did his post-race back flip.

Ron Fellows finished second driving a car owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Brendan Gaughan was third.

“It was a great race,” Gaughan said. “I love this race track. I remember coming here when I was about 16, 17 years old, trying to learn at the Skip Barber school and doing that stuff. Everything I remember about this place, man, ‘Canada Corner’ is just fast and let it roll it up the hill.

“We race against such good race car drivers. I got to race against Ron Fellows and Jacques Villeneuve at the end, and remember I’m older than the 19-year-olds that we’re racing against, so to me, racing against Jacques Villeneuve and Ron Fellows on a road course, I was having the time of my life. Wished I could’ve got him – had to restart on the outside that last time. I held on about as long as I could and then he had the preferred line going into (turn) three and I was able to hold on for third. I’ll take that right now. It’s a great points day. RWR (Rusty Wallace Racing) had two Toyotas in the top-10. Steven (Wallace) I heard finished ninth. (RWR) is starting to turn it on.”

Points-leader Brad Keselowski finished fourth.

Villenueve, the former world driving champion from Canada who made some eye-popping moves in the race Saturday, appeared headed to a runner-up finish for Braun Racing but lost his engine with less than two laps to go.

“I don’t know if the temperature cooled down a bit, but I could drive a lot harder at the end of the race,” Villeneuve, the 1995 winner of the Indianapolis 500, said. “The car felt really good there. It’s too bad. It’s really annoying to work so hard all weekend and not have the result. The crew worked hard and my Dollar General car was amazing all weekend. It’s just tough when you do two races and a year. You have to make the most of them.”

Villeneuve gave the Wisconsin road racing fans a thrill when he made a multi-car pass coming out of the Turn Five, a sharp left-hander.

“That was fun,” he said. “That’s one place I knew I was braking later than the 60 (Edwards). I had seen it all race and I was close enough. It was three-wide and I knew it was going to be tight, but you have to take your chances when they’re available.

“He was quicker than us all through the race so I had to take my chance when I could. I was battling the front brakes all race. Then at the end, after the last restart, the car was really, really quick, but then we had electrical problems.”

There are no guarantees that NASCAR will return to Road America as it was a late addition to the 2010 schedule when the Milwaukee Mile was forced to pull out because of financial problems with the track.

Gaughan said he would love to come back.

“This is a professional road course right here, guys,” Gaughan said. “There’s no making a different course out of it, short-cutting it, making it shorter. This is a man’s man road course. The ‘Kink’ takes some (guts) getting through there. This is a fun race track, man. I would love to see the Cup guys here. There is no way NASCAR says no. There had to be 90,000 people here. If that doesn’t tell you – a Nationwide race just drew 90,000 people – that’s a great show.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 19 2010