Edwards snaps 52-race winless streak with Michigan victory


When Carl Edwards was collecting four wins during his first Nextel Cup season, he challenged one of his team members not to shave between victories.

What was the worst that could happen? Tom Giacchi might have to go a couple of weeks without a razor?

Try 19 months.

Edwards snapped his 52-race winless streak Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, then promptly took a pair of scissors to Giacchi's long ZZ Top-style beard. The beard had gotten so unruly, Giacchi found a tick in it after returning from a camping trip two weeks ago.

"I just hated to see him like that for so long," Edwards said. "It's changed his life a little bit. People grab their children in Wal-Mart and pull them aside, lock their doors when he walks by on the street. He used to go on dates. Women loved him.

"He's been staring at the Gillette Phantom razor with longing eyes. It's going to be a new day for you, Tom."

The beard had become a running joke in the Nextel Cup garage, where Giacchi was a constant reminder that Edwards had last won a race on Nov. 6, 2005. Wins came often that year &

he scored four of them, and finished third in the season standings.

But he struggled through all of 2006, when car owner Jack Roush moved crew chief Bob Osborne off Edwards' team. The two are back together this season, and Edwards has a win to show for it while Giacchi was looking for some shaving cream.

"When they made that silly wager, I had no idea it would be this long," car owner Jack Roush said. "Carl and Bob won four races the first year. I was even surprised it took this long to get it going this year."

Edwards had to overcome an early speeding penalty and held off Martin Truex Jr. to seal the win. Truex, who has not finished lower than third the past three races, brushed the wall in the closing laps and lost his momentum.

"It was very difficult to stay composed, especially when Martin was closing in," Edwards said. "To me, second place would have felt the same as chopping off my arm. I wanted to win. That's it."

The victory gave Roush his second win of the season &

first since Matt Kenseth won Feb. 25 at California &

and temporarily sidetracked Hendrick Motorsports' season-long domination. Hendrick cars have won 10 of the 15 races this season.

Roush, who has company headquarters in nearby Livonia, makes winning at Michigan a priority for all his drivers and he celebrated twice this weekend &

Travis Kvapil also won the Truck Series race Saturday.

Edwards' victory was only the second of the year for Ford, and it snapped a 13-race winning streak for Chevrolet. No other manufacturer has won a race this season.

"Ford has given us every technical support, all the money that we've asked for to help us put in equipment and be competitive with the other manufacturers, with the other teams," Roush said. "They deserve more, and I'm just embarrassed that it took us this long to really celebrate it with Carl and the guys."

Two-time series champion Tony Stewart, winless this season, was third. Stewart had a strong car in practice Saturday, but an accident with David Gilliland caused heavy damage and he wasn't sure how good his car would be during the race.

He was supposed to start 41st, but deliberately hung back at the green flag to fall into 43rd place at the start.

"With what happened (in practice) and where we qualified, it was two strikes against us," Stewart said. "I made sure I went across the start-finish line in 43rd, so wherever we ended up I could say we went from dead last. From 43rd to third is a pretty good day."

Casey Mears, on a roll since his first career win on May 27, was fourth and the highest finishing Hendrick driver.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth to give DEI two cars in the top five, and the showing moved him into Chase for the championship contention. He's 12th in the standings &

where he was before a 100-point penalty last month knocked him down to 14th &

and is trying to end his time at DEI on top.

Earnhardt, who agreed to a five-year deal this week to drive for Hendrick Motorsports starting next season, congratulated Truex, his teammate.

"Martin did good, he did such a good job today. That team has found something &

I might sneak over there and find out what it is," Earnhardt said. "We had a good car. We were as good as anybody at the end of the race, just ran out of laps."

Kyle Busch, who is losing his ride at Hendrick to make room for Earnhardt, was sixth and was followed by Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and series points leader Jeff Gordon, who was ninth and the last driver on the lead lap.

Michael Waltrip, racing for just the third time this season, was a surprising 10th and even led one lap. He was with the leaders most of the race, and was lapped with one lap to go.

"It's just a great, great feeling to run that well," said Waltrip, who has failed to qualify 12 times this season.

"Overall, I'm very pleased. My guys are rusty, but you'd never know it. It was a hot day and I hadn't got to race this much, but I felt just as good at the end as I did in the beginning.

"When the checkered fell then I felt hot, tired and glad it was over."

Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson had been running in third, but ran out of gas seven laps from the finish and wound up 19th.

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