WEST ALLIS, Wis. (AP) – Carl Edwards made the most of his one-day Wisconsin getaway, winning Saturday’s Nationwide series race at the Milwaukee Mile after taking a brief break from his Sprint Cup duties in California.

It’s a repeat victory at Milwaukee and the first Nationwide win of this season for Edwards, who took the lead from fellow Cup commuter Kyle Busch with 44 laps left in the race and wasn’t significantly challenged the rest of the way.

Edwards, who also won last year’s race at the Mile, did his customary backflip on the frontstretch after taking the checkered flag Saturday.

“I’m just glad I got to do it tonight,” Edwards said in a radio interview in victory lane.

Busch finished second, followed by Brad Keselowski.

“We just didn’t keep up with the track, I guess,” Busch said in a postrace radio interview. “Carl beat us out there fair and square.”

Rookie Erik Darnell, a part-time Nationwide driver who qualified on the pole earlier Saturday, was running second in the late stages of the race but slipped to fourth at the finish.

Edwards and Busch flew more than 2,000 miles from California earlier in the day, missing qualifying for Saturday’s race – meaning they would have to start at the back of the pack after replacement drivers qualified their cars- but arriving in time to take the green flag.

Both drivers quickly made up ground once the green flag dropped, climbing into the top 20 only 18 laps into the race and into the top 10 by lap 55.

Busch then took over the lead on lap 123, coming off pit road first after a round of pit stops under caution. But Edwards began to gain ground on Busch during a subsequent long green-flag run, and some drama developed as a piece of metal began dragging and sparking near Busch’s right-rear wheel.

Busch’s crew turned in another fast stop under caution on lap 194, getting him off pit road ahead of Edwards, Keselowski and Steve Wallace. But Busch couldn’t shake loose of Edwards after the restart, and Edwards took the lead with 44 laps to go – just as Brad Coleman, who spent much of the first half of the race running in the top five, crashed to bring out a caution.

Darnell then took second place from Busch with 30 laps to go, making a bold move to the outside through Turns 1 and 2.

Busch retook second place in the closing laps, but it was too late to challenge Edwards for the win.

It was a breakout performance by 21-year-old former USAC standout Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who took over the lead on lap 56. In only his fourth career start in the series for the powerhouse Roush Fenway team, the Olive Branch, Miss., native held the lead through a round of green-flag pit stops until Keselowski passed him on lap 105. Stenhouse finished fifth.

Ron Hornaday Jr., who celebrated his 51st birthday by winning the Camping World Truck series race earlier Saturday, was penalized for speeding on pit road early but rebounded to finish ninth. The trucks race originally was scheduled to run Friday night, but was postponed because of rain.

After making the long flight back to California, Busch is slated to start second in Sunday’s Sprint Cup road race at Sonoma. Edwards will start 34th.

AP-ES-06-20-09 2338EDT

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