Edwards Vs Stewart, Two To Go

Put aside the arguments about the points system and look at what we have right in front of us. There are two races left in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup and there is an epic fight for the title going on.

In the eight Chase races contested so far, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart have scored the same amount of points, 313. Both drivers are near the top of their game right now as the season closes. Stewart has scored four wins in the Chase season and Edwards has only finished out of the top ten one time, 11th at Talladega.

Stewart took a dominant Chevrolet to victory lane in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway and Edwards followed him to the checkers in second place with his Ford that he said was not handling quite right. The finish allowed Stewart to gain in the standings to just three points behind Edwards, the difference accounted for by Edwards win at Las Vegas in the spring giving him three bonus points heading into the Chase.

Two fierce combatants will head to the relatively unknown one mile track at Phoenix International Raceway for the Kobalt Tools 500. Each driver has a win at the track with Edwards having three pole positions. Stewart has a slightly better average finish of 11.7 verses Edwards 13 place average.

But a lot has changed since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series last raced at Phoenix in February. The track has been torn up and reconfigured. What was once one of the more demanding tracks on the circuit, with its flat turns and dogleg backstraight, now will give drivers a new challenge. The front straight has been widened by ten feet and variable banking has been added to all of the turns. The dog-leg curve has been reconfigured by being pushed out 95 feet and the radius is tightened by 300 feet.

Both Edwards and Stewart participated in a tire test on the new surface at Phoenix back in September and also participated in the open test at the speedway in early October. Stewart was the fastest during the two days of open testing, besting the track record on the old configuration held by Edwards.

“I think that Phoenix is still a huge unknown,” explained Edwards. “Tony was out there at that tire test with us. I got to see how good those guys were. We really think next week at Phoenix has a larger opportunity by a landslide to change the outcome of this Chase. Phoenix has the potential to be huge.”

Remaining confident, Stewart is not concerned where the series races, “We’re controlling our destiny. Today is a perfect example of that. We’re worried about what we’re doing. We’re not worried about what they’re doing.”

“It’s theirs to lose now,” continued Stewart. “But I don’t know that they have a choice now. I mean, we did what we said we were going to do. We’re going to take it if we want it.”

These final two races have the possibility of finishing up one of the best Championship battles in NASCAR history. The way the points are calculated don’t matter, the rules are the same for each driver. Don’t focus on the points, focus on the battle.

Kasey Kahne summed it up best: “Tony knows he’s the fastest guy here. His crew’s behind him. They’re doing everything right. The problem is they’re going against Carl, who also think he’s the fastest guy here. It’s going to be really good all the way up till the end. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

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