Coming into the 2005 season, Carl Edwards was an up-and-coming driver within the NASCAR ranks. At that time however, he was still lacking his first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Edwards, driving for car owner Jack Roush, catapulted himself to dazzling stardom at Atlanta Motor Speedway, sweeping both of the season's races at AMS.
Edwards collected his first career Cup win in March's Golden Corral 500 in dramatic fashion, edging Jimmie Johnson for the win in yet another razor-thin margin of victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Edwards' win came a day after his first career win in the Nationwide Series in the Aaron's 312.
"I was just on a mission to win races, and I can't believe we won two this weekend," Edwards said. "I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
Edwards also won October's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500, giving him a sweep of both season's races at AMS – the first driver to do so since Bill Elliott in 1992.
But the season sweep began in March on a day in which Edwards started fourth. Although Edwards ran strong throughout the afternoon, he wasn't the one that dominated, with Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle combining to lead 307 of 325 laps.
But Edwards proved that the most important lap to lead is the final one on this day. Johnson moved into the lead during a caution with 43 laps to go, but the field was tightened up 13 laps later as a result of oil on the track. That set the stage for Edwards' big move. Edwards led briefly for four laps before Johnson moved back into the lead with 25 laps to go. Edwards hung tough, staying within striking distance of the lead in what appeared to be a loose-handling as the laps wound down.
His persistence paid off.
With two laps to go, Edwards began to gain additional ground on Johnson, prompting NASCAR on Fox announcers to predict another close Atlanta Motor Speedway finish.
Edwards proved them right. Edwards made his move coming out of turn four on the final lap, pulling alongside Johnson and inching ahead of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet to win by .028 seconds.
"This is beyond my wildest dreams, and I'm enjoying every minute of it," Edwards said. "About two and a half years ago, I was working on my dirt car in my garage at home; this is pretty cool. It's unbelievable."
Edwards' October victory wasn't quite as dramatic, with him leading 115 of 325 laps, including the 104 of the final 116 laps. But it was a similar ending to the race for Edwards as his first Atlanta win – with Edwards celebrating with his patented backflip in full view of the fans in the Speedway's frontstretch grandstands.
Edwards offered fans at Atlanta Motor Speedway unforgettable moments in 2005. When NASCAR night racing returns to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day Weekend, more unforgettable moments will undoubtedly be forged, and you cannot afford to miss it!