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The penalty dropped Edwards to 15th. He briefly fell a lap down, and wound up finishing 10th. It was a disappointment considering Edwards led a race-high 206 laps and is still seeking his first win of the season. And it didn’t seem to matter what NASCAR’s explanation was, Edwards believed he had a win taken away from him.

“They run the sport and they do the best job they can, and I drive a race car and do the very best job I can,” said Edwards, who took a few moments to compose himself after leaving the meeting with NASCAR.

“I’d rather not say what was said in there. This whole thing is very frustrating. I don’t feel like we did the wrong thing.”

Stewart wasn’t any happier about his race, which ended with a third-place finish to Kyle Busch.

Stewart had led four times for 118 laps, and was out front when NASCAR called a caution for debris 12 laps from the finish. The leaders pitted, and Busch beat Stewart off of pit road, and easily handled the champion on the restart.

Stewart was annoyed with NASCAR over the caution, and his team for the slow pit stop.

“When the caution is for a plastic bottle on the backstretch, it’s hard to feel good about losing that one,” he said. “And we gave it away on pit road. That’s the best car I’ve had at Richmond in a long time. But we’ve got some work to do on pit stops right now. I don’t know what their malfunction was.”

The controversies _ and perhaps Busch winning the spring race at Richmond for the fourth straight time _ are what will be remembered from Saturday night. It’s been a strangely calm stretch of racing for NASCAR, which has not seen a multiple car accident since Martinsville a month ago. The races at California, Bristol, Texas, Kansas and now Richmond were all fairly clean, with long green-flag runs that were short on the aggression and activity fans seem to prefer.

It was thought that Richmond might bring a return of the beating and banging of a typical Saturday night short-track race, but it never happened. But as Busch left following his first win of the season, he knew that the final debris caution changed everything and that’s all that was important.

“It was a gift,” Busch said of the last caution flag. “I just don’t know where it came from or what it was or anything, but it doesn’t matter.”