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Edwards Ends Long NASCAR Slide

  • Carl Edwards performs a flip in front of his crew as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Carl Edwards performs a flip in front of his crew as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Carl Edwards performs a flip in front of his crew as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Carl Edwards performs a flip in front of his crew as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Carl Edwards high-fives fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Carl Edwards high-fives fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Carl Edwards high-fives fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Carl Edwards high-fives fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Danica Patrick heads to the infield medical center after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Danica Patrick heads to the infield medical center after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Dale Earnhart Jr., makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Dale Earnhart Jr., makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Dale Earnhart Jr., makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Dale Earnhart Jr., makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Mark Martin (55) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the field out of Turn 4 at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Mark Martin (55) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the field out of Turn 4 at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Mark Martin (55) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the field out of Turn 4 at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Mark Martin (55) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the field out of Turn 4 at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

  • Mark Martin leads the pack at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Mark Martin leads the pack at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Mark Martin leads the pack at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Mark Martin leads the pack at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • From right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Labonte and David Ragan take a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    From right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Labonte and David Ragan take a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • From right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Labonte and David Ragan take a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    From right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Labonte and David Ragan take a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Kyle Busch spins out in Turn 1 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Kyle Busch spins out in Turn 1 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • Kyle Busch spins out in Turn 1 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

    Kyle Busch spins out in Turn 1 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

  • In this photo provided by NASCAR, Carl Edwards (99) takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/NASCAR, Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images)

    In this photo provided by NASCAR, Carl Edwards (99) takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/NASCAR, Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images)

  • Carl Edwards performs a flip in front of his crew as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Carl Edwards performs a flip in front of his crew as he celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Carl Edwards high-fives fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Carl Edwards high-fives fans during driver introductions before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Carl Edwards takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Danica Patrick heads to the infield medical center after crashing during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • Dale Earnhart Jr., makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • Dale Earnhart Jr., makes a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • Mark Martin (55) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the field out of Turn 4 at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Mark Martin (55) and Kasey Kahne (5) lead the field out of Turn 4 at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
  • Mark Martin leads the pack at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • Mark Martin leads the pack at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • From right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Labonte and David Ragan take a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • From right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bobby Labonte and David Ragan take a pit stop during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • Kyle Busch spins out in Turn 1 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • Kyle Busch spins out in Turn 1 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
  • In this photo provided by NASCAR, Carl Edwards (99) takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Avondale, Ariz.  (AP Photo/NASCAR, Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images)

Avondale, Ariz. — Carl Edwards climbed from his car, stood on the door and landed a backflip near the finish line. He then hopped up on the wall in front of the grandstand, grabbed the checkered flag and waded into the crowd, trading high-fives with fans.

After a miserable week at Daytona, Edwards had plenty to celebrate.

That it came at Phoenix International Raceway only seemed fitting.

Coming through on his promise to dominate after his Daytona disaster, Edwards pulled away on a late restart and snapped a 70-race winless streak yesterday, the second long drought he’s ended at Phoenix.

“This win feels as good or better as any win I’ve ever had,” Edwards said.

Edwards had a rough 2012 season, missing the Chase for the championship. His downward spiral continued at Daytona, where he wrecked five cars. On his way out of Florida, Edwards said he was ready to dominate and win at Phoenix.

He did just that, leading the final 78 laps on the 312-lap race around PIR’s odd-shaped oval in the first non-restrictor-plate race with NASCAR’s new Gen-6 car.

Edwards got a good push from defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski on the restart with two laps left and pulled away from there, winning for the first time since Las Vegas in 2011.

The big duel came behind Edwards.

Despite struggling with his car most of the day, Denny Hamlin made a bold move on the last lap with a pass on the apron below the dogleg. He popped up alongside Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson and the two drag-raced to the finish, where Johnson edged him by a few inches.

Keselowski, who was outside Johnson during Hamlin’s move, finished fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended up fifth.

Golf

Thompson Wins
First Title

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. — On a long, hard day at the Honda Classic, Michael Thompson relied on a superb short game to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Thompson seized control early with a 50-foot eagle putt on the third hole, then kept his distance with clutch par saves and closed with a birdie from the bunker. It gave him a 1-under 69 — one of only five rounds under par at PGA National — and a two-shot win over Geoff Ogilvy.

It was a big week for Ogilvy, too.

The former U.S. Open champion had plunged to No. 79 in the world ranking and already missed the Match Play Championship. He was prepared for another week off next week until putting together four solid rounds.

Dog Sledding

Iditarod Commences

Willow, Alaska — Dogs aching to run bolted out of the chute yesterday to launch the 41st running of Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Now 65 teams will be making their way through punishing wilderness toward the finish line in Nome on Alaska’s western coast 1,000 miles away.

The Iditarod kicked off Saturday with an 11-mile jaunt through Anchorage, 50 miles south of the real starting line in the town of Willow. Yesterday’s event marked the competitive portion of the race.

Saturday’s ceremonial start took place amid a party-like atmosphere. But yesterday’s mood was charged with tension as mushers switched to the business of racing — at least among top mushers like defending champion Dallas Seavey and four-time winners Lance Mackey, Jeff King and Martin Buser.

They are among six past Iditarod winners in the running. Mackey, of Fairbanks, is the only musher to win the Yukon Quest and the Iditarod races the same year — accomplishing dual championships not once, but two years in a row. Mackey, a throat cancer survivor, has won both races four times and was hoping for a comeback to his last Iditarod championship in 2010.

Others are in the race for the adventure and never come close to winning, yet there they are, year after year. Among them was Cindy Gallea, of Wykoff, Minn., whose best finish was 33rd among 10 Iditarods so far.

“I love running the dogs, working with the dogs,” she said before the start of her 11th race. “I love being in Alaska, being around the beauty.”

But even past middle-of-the-packers felt the pull of competition.

Musher and Anchorage funeral director Scott Janssen, known as The Mushing Mortician, said, “Today’s game time. Today we’re going to rock ‘n’ roll.”

To reach the finish line in the old gold rush town of Nome, the teams will encounter mountains to climb, and forests and frozen rivers to cross. They’ll possibly do battle with fierce winds and temperatures that can plunge to 50 below.

Along the way, they’ll stop at village checkpoints for a hot meal, to drop an ailing dog or to sit out mandatory rest periods. Sometimes they’ll blow right through after a hasty check-in.

As always, by the time the first musher reaches Nome, some participants will have dropped out of the race. Even the last place finisher knows that getting to Nome is a feat in itself.

The winner gets a new truck and a cash prize of $50,400. The rest of the $600,000 purse will be split between the next 29 mushers to cross the finish line.

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Follow Rachel D’Oro on Twitter at https://twitter.com/rdoro