Dream season ends in disappointment for Joe Gibbs Racing – ESPN

 In Sports
HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Joe Gibbs Racing fielded two of the four entries competing for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship crown Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the JGR Toyotas driven by Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch appeared to have the speed necessary to win the Ford EcoBoost 400.

Then the stock car team owned by the Hall of Fame football coach fumbled late in the contest.

Edwards was running second in the race and leading the four championship contenders as the field lined up for a restart with 10 laps remaining, with Busch not far behind.

But Edwards’ attempt to block a fast charging Joey Logano triggered a nine-car wreck and instantly took him out of the championship equation. Busch was then called in for a questionable stop for tires that left him too far behind for the green-white-checkered overtime finish to challenge race (and championship) winner Jimmie Johnson.

For much of the 267-lap contest, Edwards looked like the driver to beat in terms of the championship, usually holding the upper hand over Final Four challengers Busch, Logano and Johnson. He led eight times for a total of 47 laps.

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Edwards and Busch were disputing second place (and the lead of the championship) behind race leader Kyle Larson in the closing stages when Dylan Lupton grazed the Turn 2 wall to bring out the caution on Lap 253.

Larson maintained the lead in the pits and Edwards lined up on the inside of the front row for the restart. Meanwhile, a slow pit stop dropped Busch to sixth place.

When the green flew to start the 258th lap, Logano immediately shot to Edwards’ inside. Edwards steered hard left, forcing both cars off the racetrack toward the inner wall on the approach to Turn 1.

Logano caught his fishtailing car and continued into the corner. Edwards wasn’t so lucky. After pounding the inside wall, the orange Camry shot up the track and was collected at near full speed by Kasey Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet, shoving it slightly airborne and into hard contact with the outer wall.

Six other cars were swept in, including the Furniture Row Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., which briefly caught fire. None of the drivers were injured, but Edwards championship hopes were as badly damaged as his mangled race car.

Five years removed from when he ended up second to Tony Stewart in the most memorable championship finish in Chase history, Edwards once again came away from Homestead empty-handed.

“They put it in my hands and that’s all you can ask for,” Edwards said. “Dave Rogers [crew chief], my guys, everybody, they did a good job. It didn’t work out. This is life. We performed well. We did our best. I just risked too much.

“Dave told me before this race that it’s a pretty big reward (the championship) and remember risk gets reward,” he continued. “I just had to push it. I couldn’t go to bed tonight and think that I gave him that lane.”

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