Toyota/Save Mart 350 Win, Lose or Draw

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Carl Edwards won a road race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. almost won a road race.

Those two sentences alone made for quite a nice Sunday in wine country. Here’s a breakdown of those who left happy and hung over.

Win: Drivers 14th-16th in the Standings

Right now, that’s Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. This felt like the week a wild card would escape with a win and knock the Chase standings out of whack. Seeing Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon competing for a win on the final lap must have felt like a holiday. Plus, Menard finished fifth. Bowyer led before tire problems but still has a 23 point cushion into the Chase. Biffle ended up ninth in a good day for Roush Fenway Racing.

Lose: Richard Petty Motorsports

Marcos Ambrose was the wild card. He even was the race favorite ahead of names like Johnson and Gordon. Ambrose finished eighth for a good but not spectacular Sunday. Aric Almirola lost ground with a 23rd place finish.

The results leave RPM in a bind. Ambrose is 37 points behind the 16th spot in the points. Almirola is 44 points away from the Chase. With five drivers ahead of them also seeking a Chase spot, it’s probably going to take a win to qualify for the Chase. That makes Watkins Glen feel like a must win for Ambrose and out of the box thinking appealing to Almirola.

Draw: Joe Gibbs

I have no idea if Carl Edwards will leave for Joe Gibbs Racing. There are too many Edwards to Gibbs reports out there for me to think there’s isn’t at least some discussion.

The good news is this win shows how well rounded a driver Gibbs could be getting. Edwards used to be dreadful on road courses. He now can win on any track. Even though there isn’t a road course during the Chase (yet),  that diversity is nice to have.

The bad news could be history. Edwards reportedly flirted with the idea of leaving RFR three years ago. Competing for a title had during that process had to have impacted his decision is some capacity. Edwards is now one of five drivers with two wins. He excels at 1.5 mile tracks which dominate the Chase. How will he deal with all of this talk this time around?

There will be more twists and turns to the Edwards saga than on the road course where he won yesterday. As that world turns, enjoy the week and all the coverage leading into Saturday’s race at Kentucky.