BRISTOL, Tenn. The situation was perfect for Carl Edwards to issue some payback on Kyle Busch.
Instead, Edwards passed on a chance to knock Busch out of the lead over the closing laps at Bristol Motor Speedway.
As Busch pulled away for Sundays win his fifth consecutive win dating back to last August at the Tennessee track Edwards regretted not racing harder to potentially steal the victory. The two have a history at Bristol, and Edwards still is smarting from contact last month at Phoenix that he believed wrecked a car capable of winning the race.
I told him after Phoenix that I still owe him one, but Ill save it up, Edwards said. I thought Id be able to race with him harder for those last 15 to 20 laps, but he took off, and I just couldnt get back to him to race. If I would have known that was the only shot I was going to have, I might have raced a little harder.
That Edwards considered revenge was a surprise to Busch, who seemed mystified that Edwards could be holding any sort of grudge against him.
I have no idea what Im owed from, youd have to ask Carl, said Busch, who later added when asked specifically about Phoenix, Carl says what Carl says. I dont know. And when and where it comes, I do not know.
It didnt come Sunday after Busch beat Edwards and Jimmie Johnson off pit road following the final pit stops. It gave him the lead and ability to hold them off over the final 60 laps. The racing at the start of each restart was intense, but Busch consistently pulled away from Edwards to prevent any real challenge for the win.
I was trying to drive away from him so he wouldnt have the opportunity to get to me, Busch said of his strategy with Edwards. When he got to me that one time, Im like Oh, man. That was your shot. Nice try. You didnt get it done. I just thought, man, if I could get away from him I wouldnt have to worry about it, so concentrate, get going.
He did, pulling away to complete a sweep of the weekend; he also won the second-tier Nationwide Series race Saturday. Hes now won five Cup races at Bristol, which ties him with older brother Kurt in NASCARs top series, and has 11 victories spanning the three national series.
Busch, who drives a Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, dedicated the win to the manufacturer and its employees in Japan still trying to recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Johnson, the defending race winner, finished third in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and said he patiently was waiting for a dustup between Busch and Edwards that could have given him the win.
We were all running really hard, and there were a couple moments where I thought I might be given a big gift, Johnson said. Its not like I was really riding. There was nowhere for me to go if I got up in there and raced with those guys. I left myself a little bit of room. These guys were digging up front, and I was just waiting to see what was going to happen.