Carl Edwards Earns Martinsville Top-10 To Retain NASCAR Points Lead

Carl Edwards had one of those days where championships are made.

Edwards, who was in 23rd place and one lap down with 100 laps remaining in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, mounted an unlikely rally to finish ninth and retain the Chase points lead.

Making something out of nothing has been a hallmark of Jimmie Johnson's championship run, and Edwards seemed to do exactly the same thing at Martinsville.

"That's just a gift to finish ninth and to have the day we had," Edwards said. "... We did not deserve to finish ninth."

Edwards, who counts Martinsville as one of his worst tracks, called his comeback "unreal." As he drove around the half-mile track down one lap, the Missouri native said he used the St. Louis Cardinals' World Series victory as motivation to not give up.

But as the day wore on, he began to accept that a poor finish was inevitable.

"I became all right with the fact we were going to finish 20th or 25th," he said. "I was already thinking about Texas (next week), everything we were going to do."

Thanks to the free pass rule and multiple cautions, though, Edwards kept picking off positions and ultimately salvaged a good day.

Of course, the race could have been a disaster for Edwards' Chase hopes had NASCAR followed through on a threat to black flag the Roush Fenway Racing driver late in the race.

NASCAR had told Edwards to pass Jeff Burton, so Edwards followed those instructions just as the green flag waved and drove around the No. 31 car.

But it appeared Edwards was jumping the restart, and NASCAR announced it was issuing a penalty. The No. 99 team protested, though, saying Edwards was simply following instructions.

"Whether or not there was a communication error, I appreciate NASCAR looking at it and realizing they told me to do what they were black-flagging me for," he said. "Not very often they rescind the black flag like that."

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