LOUDON, N.H. (AP) – Points leader Martin Truex Jr. held off Carl Edwards on the final lap for his fifth victory of the season in a caution-filled NASCAR Busch series race Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Truex, who started seventh, led only the last 13 laps in the New England 200. The victory extended the reigning series champion’s points lead to 142 over 16th-place finisher Clint Bowyer.

“Maximum points, that’s what we’re here for,” Truex said.

But he wasn’t so sure he would be the winner.

“We had two tires, and one time with about 40 or 50 to go we started to back up,” Truex said. “At the end it just worked out in our favor.”

It was the 11th career victory on NASCAR’s second-tier circuit for Truex, who will move up to the Nextel Cup series next year for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

His Chevrolet beat the Ford of fast-closing Edwards by two car-lengths, with Truex winning a two-lap dash in a race extended a lap for a green-flag finish following the final caution.

“I saw him coming, and I figured if I stayed on the bottom I had him beaten,” Truex said.

Edwards said he had no choice in his plan of attack.

“I knew that the outside was going to be the best for our car, but I didn’t want to show him my hand until the end,” he said. “We finished better than we probably should have.”

Rookie Denny Hamlin was third in a Chevy, followed by the Ford of Elliott Sadler and Jamie McMurray’s Dodge.

Hamlin was in front because he stayed out on the track after a late caution. Truex passed him on the 189th lap.

“We were out there for so long, we just couldn’t overcome those tires,” Hamlin said.

The winner averaged 92.093 mph in a race slowed for 49 laps by 13 cautions flags. There were six lead changes among six drivers.

J.J. Yeley, Paul Menard, polesitter Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Stanton Barrett completed the top 10.

Harvick dominated the first half of the event, and wound up leading twice for 90 laps. Hamlin led for 67 laps.

The race was red-flagged twice for repairs and track cleanup, the last time with 18 laps remaining.

AP-ES-07-16-05 1940EDT


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