AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Carl Edwards won the Nationwide Series race Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway, setting himself up for a big weekend for Roush-Fenway Racing.
Edwards dominated the Nationwide race, leading 153 of the 200 laps while beating runner-up Kevin Harvick by 5.210 seconds. He was that good despite missing the final practice on orders from team owner Jack Roush, who wanted the driver to concentrate on his Sprint Cup Series car.
Edwards will start from the pole in Sunday’s main event. He set a track record in qualifying, and was the fastest car in all three Cup practices.
“It’s already been special,” Edwards said of his weekend. “We’ve got one more thing to do, and that’s go win that race. We got the pole, the win here, it’s going well.
“I am enjoying myself, that’s for sure.”
He was skeptical when Roush told him to skip the final Nationwide practice, but Roush said he made the rare move of stepping in and giving an order.
“I thought I should take the heat if it went horribly bad,” Roush said.
So far, so good.
It was Edwards’ second consecutive Nationwide victory — he also won last weekend at Texas — and his fourth of the season.
Like Edwards, Harvick skipped the final Nationwide practice and was looking forward to Sunday. He’s third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship standings, and trails leader Denny Hamlin by 59 points with two races remaining.
“It was just a solid day,” Harvick said. “Always want to win, but hopefully we can save that for Sunday.”
Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top five.
Aric Almirola was sixth, followed by Colin Braun and Justin Allgaier. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Steve Wallace completed the top 10.
Danica Patrick finished 32nd after a rough race. She had a tire problem after making contact with Tony Raines, but also bumped and banged with Alex Kennedy for several laps in the middle of the race.
Kyle Busch, meanwhile, finished 16th but kept Joe Gibbs Racing in the lead in the owner championship race. Keselowski already has the driver title locked up, but Busch has JGR up 41 points over Penske Racing in what’s shaping up to be a split title.
“We’re going all-out at Homestead. We know it’s not going to be easy,” Keselowski said. “We know the Joe Gibbs Racing cars have been good at the mile-and-a-half tracks all season.”