Carl Edwards win Zippo 200 Nationwide Race, sets sights on Sprint Cup breakthrough

Aug 11, 2012; Watkins Glen, NY, USA; NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Carl Edwards (60) does a flip after winning the Zippo 200 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-US PRESSWIRE

It's no secret that Carl Edwards is struggling right now, especially in comparison to his stellar 2011 season, where he came within one position of winning the Sprint Cup Series championship. In response, Edwards swore off the Nationwide Series, hoping the increased commitment to his Cup team would lend him his first championship.

Instead, 2012 has been a complete disaster, filled with both bad luck and underwhelming speed. Edwards returned to the Nationwide Series on Saturday afternoon, looking for some momentum, and found it, winning the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

Edwards proved that he can still get it done, qualifying on the outside pole and holding off Brad Keselowski on a restart with three laps to go, winning for the first time since a Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October.

Edwards opted to compete in Saturday's race in preparation of Sunday's Finger Lakes 335, a race that could make or break the rest of his Sprint Cup season. A win over the next five weeks would get him even with Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch - other drivers in wild card range with one win. He also has an outside shot at cracking the top-10 as well, but the consistency has to start on Sunday.

Watkins Glen is a track that rewards repetition and muscle memory, traits he believes he gained by competing on Saturday. Only time will tell if the extra laps make a difference in turning Edwards subpar 2012 around.

Six other Sprint Cup regulars were entered into Saturday's race for similar reasons. That list included Chase hopefuls Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski. But it was Keselowski who appeared to have maximized the value of Saturday's track time, leading 42 of 84 laps, prompting many to vote Keselowski as the favorite entering the Finger Lakes 335. He finished second to Marcos Ambrose in last year's event.

Sam Hornish Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Ron Fellows completed the top-5. Opinions on Saturday's race, as well as a complete finishing order can be found after the jump.

So, I don't particularly like team orders in Formula 1, but I don't understand why Brad Keselowski fought Sam Hornish so hard for second place in the closing laps of Saturday's race. Hornish is a championship contender, while his teammate is not even eligible for points in the Nationwide Series. A little teamwork would have went a long way towards getting Penske a second Series championship in three years, especially on a day where both Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler both struggled.

Dillon received a pass-through penalty on lap 38 for taking the inner-loop shortcut, and then shredded a tire on lap 76 after making contact with Michael Annett. Meanwhile, Sadler never found the setup that complimented his Chevrolet and grinded-out a 12th place finish.

As for Hornish, Saturday's top-5 was his fourth in his last five races. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished fourth, making him the big winner in regards to the Series Championship. Sadler's lead is down to 13 points over Stenhouse, with Hornish lurking just 24 points back. Dillon has fallen to 29 points out, heading into another road course race at Montreal next weekend.

#WeWantRightTurns #WeWantShortTracks

I've always enjoyed this part of the Nationwide Series schedule. Having Watkins Glen and Montreal in back-to-back weekends produces some of the most-compelling races of the season. Combine that with the now defunct races at Mexico City and Lucas Oil Raceway and the Nationwide Series gave distinctively different television from that of the Sprint Cup Series. Here's hoping that more short track and tight road courses can be added to the schedule in the coming years.

Audiovisual

Third strike for Dillon (via TheOfficialNASCAR)

Final Laps: Carl goes flippin' for a foot-long (via TheOfficialNASCAR)

Race Results

Race Results
Watkins Glen International
18th Annual ZIPPO 200
UNOFFICIAL Provided by NASCAR Statistics Saturday, 8/11/2012 @ 5:19 PM Eastern UNOFFICIAL
Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts BPts Status TLd LLd
1 2 60 Carl Edwards(i) Subway Ford 82 0 Running 2 9
2 4 22 Brad Keselowski(i) SKF/Discount Tire Dodge 82 0 Running 4 44
3 1 12 Sam Hornish Jr. PPG Dodge 82 42 1 Running 2 15
4 10 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 82 40 Running
5 15 5 Ron Fellows Canadian Tire Chevrolet 82 39 Running
6 5 54 Kyle Busch(i) Monster Energy Toyota 82 0 Running 1 1
7 11 38 Kasey Kahne(i) Great Clips Chevrolet 82 0 Running
8 3 33 Paul Menard(i) Menards/Rheem Chevrolet 82 0 Running
9 8 31 Justin Allgaier Brandt Chevrolet 82 36 1 Running 1 1
10 9 11 Brian Scott Dollar General Toyota 82 34 Running
11 19 43 Michael Annett Pilot/Flying J Ford 82 33 Running
12 7 2 Elliott Sadler Charter Chevrolet 82 32 Running
13 14 30 Miguel Paludo(i) Duroline Chevrolet 82 0 Running 1 4
14 20 44 Mike Bliss TriStar Motorsports Toyota 82 30 Running
15 13 20 Ryan Truex Grime Boss Toyota 82 30 1 Running 1 2
16 16 99 Victor Gonzalez Jr. Delta Commercial/IMCA Toyota 82 28 Running
17 27 81 Jason Bowles # American Majority Toyota 82 27 Running
18 28 01 Mike Wallace JD Motorsports Chevrolet 82 26 Running
19 21 51 Jeremy Clements USS James E Williams DDG 95 Chevrolet 82 26 1 Running 1 1
20 34 75 Kenny Habul SunEnergy 1 Racing, LLC Toyota 82 24 Running
21 24 59 Kyle Kelley Jamison Eng./UPR.com Chevrolet 82 23 Running
22 6 18 Joey Logano(i) GameStop/BuyMyTronics.com Toyota 82 0 Running
23 30 3 Austin Dillon # Advocare Chevrolet 82 21 Running
24 12 88 Cole Whitt # TaxSlayer.com Chevrolet 81 20 Running
25 39 24 Tim Connolly MichaelConnollyEndowmentforLungCancerRes Chev 81 19 Running
26 40 14 Eric McClure Hefty/Reynolds Wrap Toyota 77 18 Running
27 26 97 Joe Nemechek AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota 55 17 Engine
28 41 70 Tony Raines(i) ML Motorsports Dodge 45 0 Vibration
29 25 87 Alex Kennedy Global Barter Corporation/Dream Factory Toyota 37 16 1 Accident 1 5
30 38 4 Daryl Harr iWorld Chevrolet 33 14 Running
31 31 40 JJ Yeley(i) Key Motorsports Chevrolet 27 0 Electrical
32 42 23 Dexter Stacey Key Motorsports Chevrolet 25 12 Handling
33 43 89 Morgan Shepherd Hyland's Leg Cramps Chevrolet 23 11 Brakes
34 35 53 Eric Curran Whelen/Michael J. Fox Foundation Dodge 18 10 Electrical
35 29 41 Timmy Hill Lilly Trucking Ford 14 9 Alternator
36 37 39 Matthew Bell Global Barter Corporation Ford 11 8 Accident
37 32 15 Chris Cook(i) Lilly Trucking Chevrolet 8 0 Overheating
38 17 19 Alex Popow G-Oil/Noah's Light Foundation Toyota 5 6 Accident
39 18 42 Josh Wise(i) Key Motorsports Chevrolet 3 0 Vibration
40 33 10 Jeff Green TriStar Motorsports Toyota 3 4 Vibration
41 36 46 Matt DiBenedetto The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 2 3 Brakes
42 22 47 Stephen Leicht(i) Curtis Key Plumbing Chevrolet 2 0 Brakes
43 23 7 Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet 2 1 Accident
# = Rookie, Fin = Finish, Str = Start, Pts = Total Points, BPs = Lap Leader Bns Pts, TLd = Times Led, LLd = Laps Led. (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Average Speed: 91.100 MPH Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 12 Mins, 19 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.130 Seconds
Lead Changes: 13 among 9 drivers Cautions: 5 for 15 laps Attendance: 40,000
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