- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas | Carl Edwards won for the second straight week, squeezing a victory out of his last tank of gas. And this time Jimmie Johnson ran out of magic.

The combination of the win by Edwards and a 15th-place finish by Johnson in Sunday’s Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway moved the race winner within 106 points of NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Johnson with just two races remaining.

Although Edwards dominated most of the race, leading 199 of the first 264 laps on the 1.5-mile oval, it was a daring call by crew chief Bob Osborne that got Edwards this win after several other drivers used two-tire strategies to get ahead of him near the finish.

“Oh yeah,” Edwards screamed as he crossed the finish line. “I did it. Fuel mileage. Great job.”

Edwards, who also won here in April, had leads of up to a quarter of a lap at times but fell to seventh when Osborne chose to put on four tires on lap 265 of the 334-lap event.

But as the laps wound down and the cars ahead of Edwards’ No. 99 Ford began pitting for two tires and gas, Osborne told Edwards to stay on the track.

“I thought Bob made a mistake on the four-tire change,” Edwards said. “But Bob came up with a way to win that thing anyway.”

Still, it was guesswork to the end, with Osborne first telling his driver to conserve fuel because he was going to be a half-lap short, then saying he was four laps short. In the end, he went the final 103.5 miles on his last fill-up.

“I knew by default he wasn’t too sure about it,” Edwards said. “I’m glad it worked out. Unreal.”

Before he even got out of his car, Edwards asked Osborne, “Hey, where did Jimmie Johnson finish?”

Johnson, who won this race a year ago, started seventh Sunday but quickly found himself in trouble, struggling with the handling on his No. 48 Chevrolet and sliding back through the field.

Edwards put him a lap down on lap 96 as Johnson slipped all the way to 33rd after a pit stop on lap 113. At that point, with Edwards leading, Johnson was only 64 points ahead. But his team kept making adjustments, and Johnson was able to regain some of his lost ground, although he never got back on the lead lap.

“Not the day we wanted,” Johnson said. “It’s frustrating.”

Asked about Edwards gambling on running the final 69 laps without pitting, Johnson said, “I don’t know all the details yet. But, from where I’m sitting, they had a good chance to make up points on us, they didn’t have to win the race.

“I feel that they knew they were going to make it,” he added. “When they started that last run, I really expected the 99 to fly through the pack and end up in the lead in a short period of time. It just took them a long time to get going, I thought, ‘Well, maybe his car isn’t working right. But, I believe in the end they were saving fuel, they were playing that card and if it worked, great, if not, they still were going to gain a bunch of points on us.”

Told what his lead is now, with races at Phoenix and Homestead remaining, Johnson said, “It’s still far from over. We’ve got to fight hard, and continue to fight hard. We go to a great track for us next week.”

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