SPARTA, Ky. (AP) – Carl Edwards raced to his third NASCAR Busch Series victory of the year Saturday night, passing Martin Truex Jr. with a little more than lap to go in the Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway.

Edwards, who won the Nextel Cup event last Sunday at Pocono after missing the rain-delayed Busch Series race in Tennessee, worked his way back to the front of the field after dropping to ninth with a four-tire stop with 31 laps left.

Edwards led 150 of 200 laps in his Roush Racing Ford on the 1-mile oval, finishing 0.69 seconds ahead of Truex’s Chevrolet.

The Nextel Cup driver took a chance with 31 laps left when he made the four-tire stop under a green flag. After dropping to ninth, he worked his way to fourth, and got a break with 15 laps left when a collision between Greg Biffle and Tyler Walker brought out a caution. Edwards needed less than a lap to pass Reed Sorenson and Clint Bowyer after the restart with eight laps left, and was pulling up on Truex when Biffle’s car caused another caution with seven laps to go.

After the restart with two laps left, Truex blocked Edwards on the high side, but Edwards ducked underneath and took the lead.

Edwards, who won a Craftsman Truck series race at Kentucky Speedway in 2003, also has won Busch Series races this season at Atlanta and Richmond. He and Truex are the only three-time series winners this year.

There wasn’t much that didn’t go right for Edwards on Saturday. He set a Busch Series track qualifying record and started on the pole after a fast lap of 181.287 mph.

He knew early that he had the best car. During the first caution of the race, 23 laps in, Edwards said, “Right now, I’ve got one of those cars that you get every once in awhile. It’s perfect.”

Edwards was one of five Nextel Cup regulars to drive Saturday. Sterling Marlin overcame a spinout on lap 81 to finish sixth. Rusty Wallace, running in only his second Busch Series race of the year, was 24th, and Biffle, who exited the race during the final caution, was 30th.

Michael Waltrip was the first driver to drop out of the race. Cars driven by Waltrip and Johnny Sauter touched on the sixth lap, costing Waltrip three laps, and on lap 13, Waltrip made contact with the wall in the fourth turn.

“Johnny Sauter spun,” Waltrip said. “I hit him and must have broken something in the front of the car. I couldn’t drive it after that.”

The race drew 70,114 fans, the fifth sellout in five years for the Busch Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

AP-ES-06-18-05 2324EDT

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