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Edwards was pulling away at the end, building a lead of nearly 1.5 seconds before Denny Hamlin's blown engine brought out the seventh and final caution flag of the day on lap 195. That moved Busch right up to the rear bumper of Edwards' Ford as the green flag waved for the final time for the start of lap 199, but it wasn't close as Edwards pulled out to a 15 car-length victory.
"(This was) very important," said Bob Osborne, Edwards' crew chief. "What we're doing here is a little bit of practicing for the Chase and trying to get those 10 points to catch that 18 car. ... Carl Edwards did a great job. The pit crew did a great job."
"It just came down to when he beat us off of pit road," Busch said. "That was it for us. We just didn't quite have the car capable enough of being able to beat those guys. We were good on that one run, that one set of tires. But that was pretty much what we had."
Roush Fenway took four of the top five spots with Ragan holding on to finish third, followed by teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, who bounced off the wall passing Martin, now driving a Chevrolet for Dale Earnhardt Inc., on the last lap.
Earnhardt Jr., who appeared to have one of the strongest cars in the early going, bounced off the wall in heavy traffic moments after being passed by Edwards on the late restart. He pitted and wound up finishing 23rd.
Earnhardt held onto fourth place in the standings, but several other drivers took a big hit in the race for the Chase. Kasey Kahne, who finished 40th with an engine failure, fell to 11th and Hamlin, who wound up 39th, dropped to 12th, the final spot in the Chase, just 26 points ahead of both Clint Bowyer and Ragan, tied for 13th.
Two-time reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, a four-time series champion, also had a tough day.
The two were involved in a three-wide bumping incident with two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart. Johnson had to pit immediately with a cut tire, lost a lap and wound up 17th after spinning through the grass on the final lap. The damage to Gordon's car from the bump showed up a few laps later when he cut a tire and hit the wall, sending him to the garage for repairs. He finished 42nd.
Johnson remained third in the standings, but Gordon fell from sixth to ninth, 82 points in front of Bowyer and Ragan.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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