CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Dave Blaney wound up the winner Friday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in a NASCAR Busch Series finish that included red flag stoppages for a scoring glitch and a crash by Carl Edwards and Casey Mears while battling for the win.

Edwards, going for a season sweep of the Busch races at the suburban Charlotte track, led 123 of the 203 laps that included a final two-lap overtime sprint in which Blaney fought off Matt Kenseth to grab his first series win in 93 starts since 1998.

The crash by Edwards relegated him to 27th-place and gave Kevin Harvick, who came back from an early tire problem and a lost lap to finish ninth, his second Busch championship.

Kenseth led lap 202 as the two leaders drove side-by-side, but Blaney got the nose of his car back out ahead on the final lap and Kenseth spun coming off the final turn. Michael Waltrip wound up second, followed by Stacy Compton and Kenseth.

Edwards was the fastest car on the 1.5-mile oval throughout the race. But, thanks to pit strategy, he found himself second to Mears after making his final stop on lap 171.

Mears, who was on a different fuel strategy after failing to get a full tank on his first stop of the night, finally pitted during a caution period on lap 184. That’s when the confusion began.

After Mears returned to the track, he was scored ahead of Edwards, whose team protested that Mears could not have made a stop and legally gotten out ahead of their driver. NASCAR kept the race under yellow for several laps and finally stopped the cars for six minutes while they figured it out. They eventually put Edwards in front of Mears for a restart on lap 197.

Mears immediately began pressuring Edwards from behind and, as the two neared the finish line on lap 199 of the race scheduled for 200, Mears drove to the top of the banked oval and began to pull alongside the leader. His car suddenly veered into the wall and bounced off, slamming into Edwards.

and taking both of them out.

“That’s just what happens sometimes,” Edwards said, shaking off the disappointment. “You get inside a guy and it just sucks the front around. If that had happened on the last lap, it would have been a heck of a finish. But there was nothing Casey could do about that. It’s just racing.”

Mears was apologetic.

“It’s not the way I wanted it to happen,” he said. “I just got loose and took him out. I feel bad about it.”

That wreck brought out another red flag to allow safety workers to clean up the debris from the crash.

AP-ES-10-13-06 2349EDT


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