Carl Edwards - NASCAR photoEnlarge Photo
Edwards held off a late-race charge from second-place Jimmie Johnson, who in turn was also fighting a battle with third-place Brad Keselowski. Even Denny Hamlin got in on the action, diving down onto the apron in the closing lap for a go-big-or-go-home pass on Brad Keselowski.
As Edwards took the checkered flag, Johnson and Hamlin were busy trading paint, with neither driver willing to give up second place on the podium. When the dust cleared, it was Johnson who crossed the line in second, a fraction of a car length ahead of third-place Hamlin.
Mark Martin deserves mention for backing up his third-place finish in Daytona with a pole position in Phoenix. Despite running strong early on, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver lost a lap when he made an unscheduled pit stop for right side tires. Martin got a free pass to regain the lap, but never worked his way back up front.
Tires were the downfall of Danica Patrick, who crashed hard on lap 186 after her right front tire failed. The Stewart Haas driver was uninjured in the wreck, which also collected the Front Row Motorsports Ford of David Ragan.
Johnson’s second place finish in Phoenix gives him the series points lead heading into next week’s Kobalt Tools 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.