Making his second consecutive visit to victory lane in NASCAR's top series, Carl Edwards triumphantly raised the glittering gold belt he...

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LAS VEGAS — Making his second consecutive visit to victory lane in NASCAR’s top series, Carl Edwards triumphantly raised the glittering gold belt he earned at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In a town known for title fights, Edwards emerged as a heavyweight contender Sunday.

“We do this to win. Winning these races is the greatest,” Edwards said after taking the UAW-Dodge 400 Sprint Cup race. “Winning a championship would be the ultimate. What we’re trying to do is win the championship this year. That’s our number-one goal.”

Edwards’ victory won’t be free of controversy. NASCAR discovered the lid was off his oil-reservoir encasement during postrace inspection and is taking the parts back to North Carolina for further inspection.

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Five Nationwide Series crew chiefs were suspended six races each, fined $15,000 and their drivers were docked 25 points last month because their lids were loose during an inspection.

It could mean Edwards, who won last Monday’s Auto Club 500 in Fontana, Calif., will have a short stay atop the points standings. He holds a 21-point lead over second-place Kyle Busch.

Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was third in Sunday’s race. Kasey Kahne of Enumclaw was seventh of 43.

Kahne is fourth in the standings; Biffle is sixth.

Late in the race, Jeff Gordon drifted into the side of Matt Kenseth’s car, starting a spin that led to Gordon slamming into the inside wall. Gordon’s Chevrolet broke into parts and pieces, and NASCAR had to red-flag the race to clean the debris. That accident set up a two-lap sprint to the finish.

Two-time series champion Tony Stewart bruised his foot 108 laps into the race when his right-front tire failed and he hit a wall for the second consecutive day.

“It’s going to be a miserable next two days,” Stewart said. “I was already sore.”

Edwards overcame an early pit-road penalty, given when one of his tires rolled away from the team. He escaped NASCAR punishment on a second pit-road mishap and held off Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Edwards, who celebrated with his trademark back flip, said it seemed like a return to his 2005 form, when he finished third in the Cup standings.

“I think we are close to the form we were in 2005 when it seemed like a Roush Fenway car would win every week,” Edwards said.

It was the sixth victory for team owner Jack Roush in 11 races at Las Vegas, and it ended defending series champion Jimmie Johnson’s string of three consecutive victories in the desert. Johnson finished 29th.