Edwards won his 14th Sprint Cup race and his third of his nine races at AMS. With the win, Edwards vaults to second in the points race with 6,065 points, 183 behind points leader Johnson.
“This race track is a blast. I hope they never repave it or mess with it,” Edwards said. “It’s really fun to drive on.”
Edwards, who capped a great weekend by winning the Nationwide Series race in Memphis on Saturday, won Sunday’s race despite having to overtake Hamlin and get through 10 caution flags, which included five accidents.
The worst accident was a five-car wreck on lap 304 between Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dave Blaney, Joe Nemechek and Peachtree City native Reed Sorenson. After that accident, Edwards overcame his deficit against Hamlin in the restart. Hamlin was the race leader at the time.
“Man, the second-to-last restart, Denny spun his tires and I spun mine a little bit and then he spun them again and he went to the inside,” Edwards said. “I thought to myself that here’s my chance to get to the outside. I thought I was going to bump him and he was going to keep on going and I figured I’d follow him for a while, but it just worked out great.”
Meanwhile, Johnson made an incredible charge to get back into the race after falling to 30th place after being penalized for entering pit lane too fast on lap 89. Johnson finally made it to second place after his crew chief Chad Knaus suggested he get new tires following the final caution of the day.
Johnson gained 10 positions in the final 11 laps to garner his 10th top-10 finish in 15 races at AMS and upped his point total to 6,248 with three races left this season.
“Having the new tires was a great call and it shows that Chad is trying to earn the points,” Johnson said. “We just fought, fought, fought to get back.”
The other top-10 finishers Sunday were: Hamlin, 3rd place (425 points behind); Matt Kenseth, 4th (-413); Kyle Busch, 5th (-465); Kurt Busch, 6th; Jamie McMurray, 7th; Unidilla, Ga. native David Ragan, 8th; Jeff Gordon, 9th (-312) and Greg Biffle, 10th (-185). Other notable drivers who finished out of the top 10 were Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (11th, -419), Ryan Newman (16th), Tony Stewart (17th, -401) and Kasey Kahne (33rd).
Georgia drivers Bill Elliott of Dawsonville finished 38th, followed by Sorenson at 39th. Elliott crashed on lap four with rookie Sam Hornish, Jr., but he still finished the race.
Ragan’s 8th place finish was his best showing at AMS since a 23rd place finish this past spring.
“A top 10 is good,” said Ragan, who raced at AMS with Legends cars at the age of 12. “We certainly didn’t start out great, but it was still a solid day.”
The next race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the March 2009 Kobalt Tools 500, followed by the track’s first NASCAR night race, which will be held on Labor Day weekend.