Jimmie Johnson had no idea where Carl Edwards came from.
Leading by what he thought was a comfortable margin late in the Camping World RV 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Johnson, left, ended up with a thrilling last-lap battle on his hands, courtesy of a hard-charging Edwards.
Johnson had more than a second lead on second-place Edwards as the race approached 10 laps to go. However, Edwards chipped away at Johnson’s lead and was right on Johnson’s bumper when the white flag flew. Edwards looked like he might steal the win from Johnson in Turn 3 of the final lap but as he shot past Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy, Edwards’ No. 99 Ford slid up the track and scrubbed the wall in Turn 4. That allowed Johnson to pass Edwards on the front stretch and take the win.
“I planned on hitting the wall, but I didn’t plan on the wall slowing me down that much," Edwards said in a TV interview after the race. "I play a lot of video games where you can just run it into the wall and hold it wide open and that’s what I did, but it didn’t work out quite the same as the video game. I just really, really wanted to win this race so I feel bad for the guys back at the shop for tearing up their race car intentionally. But I wasn’t going to get by him (Johnson) on the top and I didn’t want to go in there and slide job and hit him and so I just did what I could do.”
Johnson led the most laps (124) and made up 20 points on Edwards to take a 10-point lead in the standings. It was Johnson’s fifth victory of the season and 12th in the Chase since 2004.
"I thought I was sitting in great shape with two to go," Johnson said in his post-race news conference "Had a nice, comfortable lead. Next thing you know, that No. 99 (Carl Edwards) is all over me. I had a battle on my hands."
Greg Biffle continued his hot streak with a third-place finish. Jeff Gordon leapt two spots in the standings to sixth after he battled Biffle late and settled for a fourth-place finish. Matt Kenseth, who had to rally twice after a lug nut problem in the pits and a spin on the track, rounded out the top five.
Chase losers on the day included Kyle Busch, who finished 28th to slide to 311 points back of points leader Johnson. Busch's teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, Tony Stewart, started 41st, spun through the infield grass on the frontstretch midway through the race and finished 40th after his crew spent time on pit road fixing a damaged front splitter.
Full results can be found here. Updated standings can be found here.
-- Michele Vincze
Photo: Getty Images