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First Time Winner At Toyota-Save Mart 350
Edwards - Win
Carl Edwards hoists the trophy as a first time winner at the Toyota-Save Mart 350 this weekend in Sonoma, surrounded by teammate, friends and fans, happy to be in the Winners Circle. - photo by Photo By Jeff Burghardt

At the 26th annual Toyota/Save Mart 350, Carl Edwards didn’t lead the most laps, but when he took over the top spot with 26 laps to go, he led the most important ones. It was Edwards’ first ever win on a road course. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and practice on road courses. Edwards qualified fourth and looked to be strong, but his car fell off early on in during the race, but his crew chief (Jimmy Fennig) was able to make the right car setup calls that would put Edwards back up towards the front of the field. Edwards, from the “show me state” of Missouri would take care of the rest, showing the way to the checkered flag. With his win, Edwards became the 10th different winner in the last 10 years at this event. There were 10 lead changes and he claimed the 10th and final lead change.

It was not an easy win, as Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both had very strong cars at the finish. The popular Earnhardt worked his way from the middle of the pack into the third spot and had only Jeff Gordon between him and Edwards. And Gordon was not going to make it easy for Edwards, as he steadily chewed up the lead Edwards had developed in his Jack Roush owned Aflac Ford. On the final turn (turn 11) of the final lap, Gordon tried to make his move, but Edwards was up to the task, taking the win by a mere 0.591 seconds over Gordon, with Earnhardt right behind in third.

The new “rookie” from Elk Grove, California, Kyle Larson qualified third and looked good early on in the race. Then some problems developed and, along with a pit stop penalty that sent him to the back of the field, he was relegated to a 28th place finish. Larson was also the pole sitter for the K & N Pro Series West Carnerso 200, held the day before at the same track. Larson went wire to wire for the win in that event. That was his first win in a stock car on a road course. Fan favorite, Danica Patrick qualified well in the 11th position, but fell back to an 18th place finish.