Greg Edwards Victorious In Season Finale – Wins Fifth Championship After A Tie Break
Hampton, VA – It was going to take all but the planets aligning for Greg Edwards to win the track championship this past weekend at Langley Speedway. Edwards entered the weekend ten points behind older brother Danny Edwards, Jr., who had been on fire the last third of the season winning five straight points races in a row to sneak into the points lead. Greg, who had been the man to beat up until June, needed a few things to go in his favor to win the championship; 1) A win, 2) Car count, 3) A hiccup/malfunction from Danny.
Not saying that Greg wished anything bad on his older brother these were just the simple facts if he wanted to win the championship. The motto going into the weekend from the 97.3 The Eagle crew was to go out, win the pole, lead every lap, and win the race – which they did with little to no opposition. Edwards earned the pole earlier in the afternoon after being the only driver to lay down a sub 16-second lap – 15.990 (88.931 MPH) – to be exact! Danny Edwards, Jr., Connor Hall, Nick Smith, and Justin T. Carroll (from Concord, NC) made up the rest of the starting five.
From the drop of the green flag it was very clear, very early that Greg Edwards was not going to be denied the shot to put LaFawnduh – the name that the car earned since she was built – in “The Box.” With step number one completed – Win the Pole – it was time for Edwards to focus on step two – Lead Every Lap. Long story short, we all know that’s what he did, and we are going to credit a large part of that to the man’s ability to get going on restarts. A race that was slowed six times due to cautions made it easy for anyone to “go out on the limb,” take the cone and dive bomb turn one. What’s an easy way to avoid that? Clear the field by the time you get to two, which is just what Edwards did all night. Sometimes even creating a two to three car gap by the time they hit the middle of the backstretch.
Though no one really had much to offer up to the 97 car we did have some awesome battles throughout the entire top ten. Edwards, Jr, Hall, Wertz, and even Nick Smith were all nose to tail there trying to feel each other out and make their moves before the race was put on hold after Justin S. Carroll had an incredibly hard hit to the outside wall in turn four. The car would ride the wall and come to a halt out of two. Driver was okay – could not say the same about the car.
On the ensuing restart Wertz would try his luck and take the cone. He would not have enough for Greg and would have to turn his attention to Danny to try and take the second position away. With the outside not working Wertz backed off and immediately went to work on the low line. After a five lap side-by-side battle, Wertz was able to prevail and grab the second position leaving the door open for Connor Hall to snag P3. We even had some good battles going down for positions six through ten. A scary moment on lap 81 for the second place machine of Wertz working around some of the slower lapped traffic. He was all but spun around coming through three and four; surprisingly it did not slow him down to much.
The race was slowed one more time at lap 90 after Causy goes around out of two due to minor contact with Wyatt creating a pretty interesting shootout to the finish. A caution flag that I am sure Danny Edwards, Jr. wishes never happen. Once the track was clear and the field was given the option to take the cone Connor Hall did not hesitate to try his luck on the outside. Still not being able to put up to much of a challenge Hall made one hell of a move to fall back in line in the third spot and immediately challenge Wertz for second – Hall would eventually win that battle. This left points leader Danny Edwards pretty much fighting for his life in the middle of the pack eventually falling back and riding for a bit in seventh.
Things would take a terrible turn for the worse with just two laps to go as Edwards, Jr. was just riding along in the seventh position he had a right front tire go down and would bring out the fifth caution of the night. No major damage to the car but he would have to bring the car to the attention of his crew for a fresh tire. With laps counting in this event he would ultimately lose a lap, and restart in the eleventh position for the Green-White-Checkered finish.
You thought that was enough excitement for one race? Well I guess the drivers did not as Hardin found himself in the wall in turn one during the white flag lap to bring out yet another yellow flag. With the yellow comes the free pass and with Edwards, Jr. being the first car one lap down he was our free pass car and would have to restart at the tail end of the longest line. Now at this point all Danny would need to do is make easy work of the three lap cars and work his way around Causy and finish tenth to win the championship.
When the green was displayed for what would be the final time of the night Edwards, Jr. took off like he was shot out of a rocket passing not only the three lap cars but also passed Causy low before the start finish line which in just about any form of racing is not allowed. No sure if there was a miscommunication from Danny’s crew or they were just throwing a hail marry but it would ultimately earn himself a penalty after not giving the positions back during the final laps as asked by race control.
Greg Edwards would go on to win the race, earning his seventh win of the season, and creating one heck of a points race. After the penalty assessed to Edwards, Jr. – placing him the last car on the lead lap – it forced a 403-point tie in the points standings ultimately handing the title over to Greg on the tie break – Most Wins.
“We did what we had to do,” Edwards said after victory lane celebrations wrapped up. “It feels great! The thing I kind of feel bad about is seeing the disappointment my brother has to go through. I have gone through these things; I know how these things feel. Someone had to be there to take advantage of it and I am just glad I was the one that was there.”
Either way you look at it the championship trophy went home to the Edwards Motorsports shop and for that Greg was excited, and possibly even happier to see his brother back on top of his game.
“It feels great you know,” Edwards said. “What actually feels better is that he [Edwards, Jr.] has picked his program back up to where it needs to be. He is running up front and at times the dominant car, and that’s just back to the old Danny Edwards. Maybe both of us will get on a roll and put on some good shows like we did back in the day. “
Mark Wertz, a two-time track champion was able to transfer speeds during practice over to the race and bring home second after fending off challenges from Edwards, Jr. and Connor Hall. We were able to catch up with him a day after the race to talk a bit about his race.
“I was a little to free in practice,” Wertz said. “Before qualifying we tightened it up a little bit and just over adjusted.”
Wertz mad the decision to put things back like they were in practice and let it go from there for the race. “I think the only thing that ended my progression there was when we were lapping the 01 car and got tangled up a little bit there and the car was just to free after that, used up to much of the right rear tire. It was still way better than we had been in a long time.”
Wertz also let us know he didn’t mind seeing those late race cautions because it was a perfect opportunity to put pressure on the leader and open up the door to try and win the race. The second place finish on the night locked in a fourth place finish in the points standings for Wertz, who if not for a few flat tires through the middle part of the season, could have been right up in the thick of the points battle.
OFFICIAL LMSC Results;
- P1 #97 Greg Edwards; 141
- P2 #55 Mark Wertz; 141
- P3 #90 Terry Carroll; 141
- P4 #77 Connor Hall; 141
- P5 #10 Nick Smith; 141
- P6 #03 Brenden Queen; 141
- P7 #92 Casey Wyatt; 141
- P8 #57 Justin T. Carroll; 141
- P9 #19 Cameron Bowen; 141
- P10 #33 Macy Causey; 141
- P11 #26 Danny Edwards, Jr.; 141
- P12 #08 Mike Weddell; 139
- P13 #01 Medline Crane; 138
- P14 #71 Logan Jones; 136
- P15 #7 Michael Hardin; 130
- P16 #8 Tyler Hughes; 129
- P17 #91 Justin Carroll; 34
- P18 #38 Cody Carlton; 19
- P19 #97 Thomas Marks; 6