- Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 00:35
- Published on Wednesday, 16 November 2011 00:35
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With just two races remaining and three points separating Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart in the “Chase for the Sprint Cup” heading into Phoenix last Sunday, trash talking was bound to heat up. Stewart cast the first stone following his win at Martinsville, suggesting that Edwards should be worried about getting enough sleep the next few weeks. “The Stewart-Haas team was on their game and were coming after Edwards’ points lead. Carl Edwards should be very worried.”
Stewart, a two-time champion backed up his words by winning again at Texas, trimming the deficit behind
Edwards to just three points. An interesting side note is that heading into Phoenix they have both scored the exact same number of points in the Chase: 313. Edwards owns his miniscule advantage because of the three bonus points he earned winning a race in the regular season.
Speaking of Stewart’s win at Texas Motor Speedway, it was his fourth win of this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. Only one other driver has ever won four races in the Chase: Jimmie Johnson in 2004, 2007, and 2009.
So far no driver has won five races in the Chase. Stewart has a solid chance of becoming the first. He turned the fastest laps at the test session for the new surface of the Phoenix track last month.
Asked about the fete of winning four of the first eight races of the Chase, Stewart said, “We really needed those wins. We had to make up ground for some of the terrible finishes we had in the regular season, particularly at Dover and Kansas. We really gave away an opportunity at Kansas. At Dover, we were just terrible all day.”
In his post race press conference Stewart said, “We’re concentrating on our own race, not waiting for Edwards crew to make a mistake. Today’s race was a perfect example. The car was fast when we unloaded; Darien and the crew kept working on the car all night and I don’t think we were ever out of the top five.”
Asked if the two previous championships were a big advantage going into the final two weeks, Stewart agreed that yes, it was a big advantage, “But I’m not going to tell you what it is. If we win this thing, I’ll tell you afterwards.”
Edwards took Stewart’s words at Martinsville and turned them into inspiration, finishing second at Texas and holding onto the points lead with two races to go. The circumstances of this season give it a similar feel to last year, when Denny Hamlin, going for his first championship, was leading Jimmie Johnson who owned multiple titles. This year Carl Edwards, going for his first championship, is leading Tony Stewart, who owns multiple titles. Hamlin squandered a 33-point lead, and Johnson won his fifth title. The three-point lead Edwards took to Phoenix under this year’s new points system equates to approximately 13 points under last year’s points schedule.