Bristol, TN (FOX19) - Carl Edwards had every reason to be nervous.
Three of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates—Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin—all had tire issues on Sunday at Bristol, but Edwards, who won the pole with a sub 15-second lap on Friday, also was fastest to the checkered flag on Sunday, winning the Food City 500.
"These guys are the best in the world," Edwards said of his competition in Victory Lane. "It's amazing as a driver I can't describe how good these guys are and that's what makes these wins special. You've got guys who are breathing down your neck and fighting for every inch out there. To be able to come out on top means a lot."
Crowd favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second followed by Kurt Busch, rookie Chase Elliott and Knoxville, Tenn. native Trevor Bayne came home fifth. "We worked hard," said Earnhardt Jr. who noted that he felt his car was no better than about 10th fastest in the field. "The guys worked hard, they want me to work hard. Greg worked hard to get my laps back from early in the race."
"We went through a lot of adversity and last year if we had adversity we didn't have cars that could get us back," said Bayne. "Today I made some mistakes that I'll clean up but we were able to run better."
It was a big day for some drivers who aren't usually up near the front. Landon Cassill led 20 laps in the middle of the event, and Matt DiBenedetto finished a career-high sixth. The California native was emotional after the race. "It was a great day for us. We just kept picking them off one-at-a-time," DiBenedetto said standing next to his No. 83 car. "My crew chief Gene Nead made great adjustments. My team did a good job in the pits."
"This is like a win for us."
Edwards led 276 laps, the most of all drivers in the race that took just over three hours and fifteen minutes to complete at the .533-mile track.
Kevin Harvick finished seventh with Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano rounding out the top ten. "We figured out every possible way to shoot ourselves in the foot," said Logano.
There were 15 cautions in the race which featured 16 lead changes amongst seven drivers. Kenseth led the second-most laps, with 142, but finished 40 laps down in 36th.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race at Richmond next Sunday afternoon where Kurt Busch is the defending race winner.