By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) - Carl Edwards took the lead on the last pit stop and held off Denny Hamlin on a restart eight laps from the end for his first Southern 500 victory Sunday night.
"I feel like my pit crew ought to be sitting up here doing interviews," Edwards told reporters after the win. "They won that race for us. It was just amazing to come down third and to go out leading the race."
Edwards made 12 stops on Pit Road and spent an average of 48.8 seconds off the track as his crew made the necessary adjustments to his car.
Edwards was two laps behind early in the long, long, nearly five-hour NASCAR Sprint Cup race, slowed by a record 18 cautions at Darlington Raceway.
Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski was second and Hamlin finished third. Joey Logano was fourth, followed by defending race champion Kevin Harvick and the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle.
Kyle Busch's seventh-place finish would be enough to secure a spot in the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"It's also a great sports story," team owner Joe Gibbs said. "I think everything that happened to us there in Daytona and then for him to bounce back in 11 weeks, I felt like the odds were against us. For him to be able to pull this off and come back, win four times, and get back in the Chase...they had a great gameplan."
Edwards won for the second time this season, and gave Joe Gibbs Racing its seventh victory in the last 10 events. JGR swept the weekend, with Hamlin winning the Xfinity race Saturday.
Edwards did his signature victory backflip in the race's return to Labor Day weekend.