Never before has a race seemed to mean so much when victory is achieved. But, when it's been nearly two years since being in victory lane, it means much more. Just ask what Dale Earnhardt Jr. felt when he went to victory lane last year in Michigan, and that was after a four-year drought.
For Carl Edwards, Sunday's race marked 70 races since his team went to victory lane, which came in Las Vegas in 2011, his lone victory of the year.
He has since seen his third crew chief, a team change, sponsors change, and a tie for the longest wait of getting to taste victory. Finally, after having to save fuel, hold off Jimmie Johnson, and survive a green-white-checkered finale, Edwards was finally able to celebrate. His signature backflip and celebration alongside the fans brought a smile to his face.
Edwards now has early momentum like he did in 2011, but knows it's a long season. For now, he's just going to enjoy this victory.
The pool writers are happy for Edwards, but the only problem in that enjoyment is that no one chose him to win. But, unlike last week in Daytona, all but two writers had pretty good weeks.
Six finished in the top-five, with another three pulling out a top-15. There was some shuffling, but still a constant leader. Here's how everyone shakes out after the Subway Fresh Fit 500:
Patti Rodisch (78) Brad Keselowski finished 4th (0)
Rob Tiongson (68) Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd (0)
Ryan O'Hara (56) Kevin Harvick finished 13th (0)
Sal Sigala Jr. (51) Brad Keselowski finished 4th (0)
Misan Akuya (46) Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd (0)
Rob Blount (45) Jimmie Johnson finished 2nd (0)
Billy Fellin (43) Denny Hamlin finished 3rd (0)
Christopher Leone (43) Denny Hamlin finished 3rd (0)
Kelly Crandall (40) Kevin Harvick finished 13th (0)
Dustin Parks (34) Kevin Harvick finished 13th (0)
Michael Hirshbein (31) Kyle Busch finished 23rd (0)
James Broomhead (23) Kyle Busch finished 23rd (0)
Kara Martin (23) Kyle Busch finished 23rd (0)
Next Race: Through two races in the season, no writer has predicted a winner. Maybe it's time a few decided to gamble and go for broke.
The perfect place to do such a thing welcomes NASCAR next week, as it's time to make the annual March visit to Sin City. Just outside the Strip, where it's all neon and a skyline of big hotels, great casinos, restaurants, and lights every which direction one turns. The slogan is "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," but when it comes to NASCAR, what happens in Vegas has a big effect on what happens down the road in the season.
Writers, time to place your bets and figure out the odds, as your picks for the Kobalt Tools 400 are due by Thursday, March 7, at 10 p.m. ET.