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Brooklyn, MI (Sports Network) - Carl Edwards scored a weekend sweep at the Michigan International Speedway Sunday by winning the 3M Performance 400. Edwards, who also captured the victory in Saturday's Nationwide Series race, held off points leader Kyle Busch in a final two-lap shootout to become just the second driver to win both races at the two-mile oval on the same weekend. He joined Mark Martin, who recorded a weekend sweep at Michigan in August 1993.
"Kyle is very good on restarts, and I knew he was going to hang back and get the run on my bumper like he did to Jimmie (Johnson) at Chicagoland," Edwards said. "I just didn't want that to happen. My guys did an unbelievable job to get me off of pit road."
Last month, Busch won the Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland after he passed Johnson on the final restart with two laps to go. Busch scored a weekend sweep at the 1.5-mile track as he also picked up the win in the Nationwide race there.
After starting 27th, Edwards quickly moved through the field up to the 13th spot by Lap 15.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. held a four-second lead over Johnson until the first caution came on Lap 19 when Marcos Ambrose blew an engine and leaked oil on the track.
After a quick-stop in the pits, Johnson regained the top spot and led the field for the restart on Lap 25. But Earnhardt, Jr. passed Johnson again for the top spot four laps later. Busch then dipped below Johnson to capture the second spot.
Edwards continued his pace towards the front as he cracked the top-five by Lap 33.
On Lap 43, Earnhardt, Jr. told his crew the water temperature in his No.88 Chevrolet was extremely high. Debris obstructed the front grill of his car, forcing the temperature increase.
Brian Vickers passed Busch for the second spot and then caught Earnhardt, Jr. for the lead on Lap 50. After Vickers made the pass, Earnhardt, Jr. rubbed the back bumper of Vickers' car, allowing the debris to fall off.
Ryan Newman began a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 64. When the cycle of stops completed four laps later, Earnhardt, Jr. re-inherited the lead with Edwards in the second spot and Vickers in third. Earnhardt, Jr.'s water temperature was reportedly back to its normal level when he came in for his stop.
However, Earnhardt, Jr.'s car became very loose just after his stop. Edwards passed him and grabbed the lead for the first time on Lap 73 with Earnhardt, Jr. falling to fifth by Lap 82.
Earnhardt, Jr. was fortunate the second caution came quickly when Dave Blaney spun and hit the wall. Paul Menard tapped Newman, who then hit Blaney. Edwards, who was in the process of lapping Blaney and Newman, was able to dodge the incident. Earnhardt, Jr. made a track-bar adjustment during his stop and came out of the pits behind Edwards, Greg Biffle and Vickers.
On lap 92, Johnson had to make an unexpected pit stop after his left-front tire went down when he made contact with Jeff Gordon. Johnson returned one lap down in 34th. The incident likely led to Gordon's misfortune five laps later when he blew a right-front tire and slapped the wall. His car suffered significant damage.
"I just hate that (Johnson) was involved," Gordon said. "We always try to have a lot of respect for one another out there."
Johnson did rebound slightly for a 17th-place finish.
Edwards was the fastest out of the pits during the third caution. He led the field for the restart on Lap 101. Edwards continued to build his lead over second-place Busch as it grew to four seconds by Lap 120.
When the next round of green-flag pit stops was complete on Lap 141, Edwards was back out in front, but Busch passed Edwards and took the lead for the first time the following lap. Busch established a 4.5-second advantage over Edwards 10 laps later.
Busch's lead was six seconds before the fourth caution came on Lap 164 for debris from Gordon's car, which had just returned to the track after repairs. Vickers edged Busch out of the pits and gained four positions in the process.
Vickers led the field for the restart on Lap 169, but Busch quickly moved to the outside of him and reclaimed the top spot.
Gordon's car could not keep up the pace as he headed back to the garage and called it a day. He ended the day in the 42nd position.
Debris on the track on Lap 179 put the event under caution for the fifth time. Earnhardt, Jr. hit the wall and suffered slight damage to his car. He spent extra time in the pits and fell one lap behind to 27th. Junior never recovered and ended up with a 23rd-place run.
Busch and Edwards were among the leaders who pitted. Both drivers took on two tires only as Edwards beat Busch out of the pits by just over a car length. David Ragan did not pit and led the field for the restart with 18 laps to go, but Edwards passed Ragan on the following lap to claim the top spot for good. Busch immediately moved ahead of Ragan for the second position.
Busch had one shot left at Edwards when Denny Hamlin blew an engine with five laps remaining, forcing the seventh and final caution. But Edwards quickly pulled away from Busch on the restart with two laps to go and then held him off at the finish by 0.947 seconds.
"I was able to take off there on those restarts and get a heck of a run through (turns) one and two, and once you got that gap, it's just over," Busch said.
Edwards led a race-high 84 laps.
The victory was Edwards' fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season and the 12th of his career.
All five of Roush's drivers finished in the top-10. Ragan tied his best finish in the series with a third-place run. He also finished third in September 2007 at Richmond. Biffle came in fourth, and Matt Kenseth was fifth. Jamie McMurray finished 10th.
With the victory, Edwards moved to within 222 points of Busch in the Sprint Cup championship standings. Busch became the first driver to officially clinch a spot in this year's "Chase for the Sprint Cup." He will secure the top seed by virtue of his eight victories so far this season.
The next race is scheduled for Saturday, August 23rd, at Bristol Motor Speedway.
08/17 19:16:53 ET
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