Carl Edwards earns first road course win at Sonoma (VIDEO)

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In what has been a tough season overall for Roush Fenway Racing, Carl Edwards has been their most consistent performer. On Sunday at Sonoma Raceway, he gave the Roush camp another boost.

Edwards took the lead on a restart at Lap 86 and kept it the rest of the way to earn his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the year in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

The Sonoma triumph is Edwards’ first career win on a road course, and also makes him the track’s 10th different winner in as many races.

Additionally, Sonoma has now spawned a first-time road race winner for the eighth consecutive race.

“That last lap was ugly,” Edwards said to TNT. “I grew up watching Jeff Gordon do well here and so to have him in my [rear view] mirror, it’s very special…This team has been working very hard, the whole group has, and it’s very special to be a part of something like this.

Edwards and his No. 99 team were able to make a two-stop strategy work out for them in a race where multiple strategies took hold.

“Early on, it was bad for us,” crew chief Jimmy Fennig said. “But we pitted at Lap 70 and the caution came out, and it played right in our hands. And when you have somebody like Carl behind the wheel and put him out in front, he’s gonna get it done.”

And adding more prestige to the win, he got it done against Gordon, a five-time Sonoma winner.

Gordon took second from pole sitter Jamie McMurray with nine laps remaining, but appeared to stop making progress when he pulled in around 1.5 seconds behind Edwards.

But the California native mounted one last charge on the final lap, getting close to Edwards at the Turn 11 hairpin before settling for second. With that, Hendrick Motorsports’ five-race winning streak in Sprint Cup points races came to a close.

“That last lap, I gave it my best effort and closed up on him,” Gordon said. “I just drove into [Turn] 11 as hard as I could. We’re weren’t that good going into 11 anyway and he didn’t overdrive it. I was hoping he might slide up and I could get a run underneath him.”

But while HMS was unable to keep their streak going, the team still had a great day. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took advantage of fresher tires to charge all the way to third for his first-ever Top 10 result at Sonoma. Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson also did well with sixth and seventh place finishes respectively.

McMurray, who happens to enjoy Hendrick power as a member of Chip Ganassi Racing, finished fourth. But it wasn’t an entirely clean journey for him as he spun around Clint Bowyer in a Lap 81 incident that also collected Kevin Harvick; Bowyer rallied to finish 10th, while Harvick ended up 20th.

Paul Menard followed up his Top-5 at Michigan last weekend with another Top-5 today in Northern California, his third of the season.

Marcos Ambrose, picked by many as a contender for this race, finished eighth after a late fade on worn tires. Edwards’ teammate, Greg Biffle, finished ninth.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES AT SONOMA – Toyota/Save Mart 350
Unofficial Results
1. Carl Edwards, led 26 laps
2. Jeff Gordon, led 3 laps
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Jamie McMurray, led 9 laps
5. Paul Menard
6. Kasey Kahne
7. Jimmie Johnson, led 1 lap
8. Marcos Ambrose, led 5 laps
9. Greg Biffle
10. Clint Bowyer, led 5 laps
11. Ryan Newman
12. Kurt Busch
13. Casey Mears
14. Brian Vickers
15. Martin Truex Jr.
16. Joey Logano, led 3 laps
17. Austin Dillon
18. Danica Patrick
19. Tony Stewart
20. Kevin Harvick, led 23 laps
21. David Gilliland
22. Brad Keselowski
23. Aric Almirola
24. Michael McDowell
25. Kyle Busch
26. Denny Hamlin
27. Cole Whitt
28. Kyle Larson
29. Alex Bowman
30. Michael Annett
ONE LAP DOWN
31. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
32. Reed Sorenson
33. Justin Allgaier
34. J.J. Yeley
35. Boris Said
36. David Ragan
TWO LAPS DOWN
37. A.J. Allmendinger, led 35 laps
38. Tomy Drissi

39. Alex Kennedy, Lap 104, Rear Gear
40. Josh Wise, Lap 95, Running
41. Ryan Truex, Lap 91, Running
42. Matt Kenseth, Lap 74, Accident
43. Landon Cassill, Lap 29, Engine

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

VEACH OUT: Driver elects to vacate seat for rest of season

“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”