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Stewart continues Chase run with Texas win

Edwards finishes second, but sees lead shrink to just three points
Sunday, November 06, 2011

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Carl Edward's had nothing for Tony Stewart (leading)
Getty Images for NASCAR
Tony Stewart backed up his smack talk with a convincing victory in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

With his fourth victory in the Chase and the 43rd of his career, Stewart put a dent in runner-up Carl Edwards’ series lead, scoring maximum points (48) to trim Edwards’ advantage from eight to three points with two races left in the season.

After winning last week at Martinsville, Stewart promised Edwards a sleepless three weeks  during the stretch run for the title. On Sunday afternoon, Stewart let his car do the talking, taking the lead from Edwards on a Lap 275 restart and coming back to the front through a cycle of green-flag pit stops late in the race.

"I don’t think we have to say anything," Stewart said in victory lane. "I think our performance today spoke for itself. He knows we’re there—trust me. … Carl kept us honest today. We got all the bonus points we could get and we got the win, so we gained more than we needed to gain on the average for the week.

"It doesn’t take much right now. It’s one spot, if a guy wins the race. We’re doing exactly what we need to do. I’m really confident right now."

Stewart didn’t regain the lead until Lap 330 of 334, when Jeff Burton lost his fuel-mileage gamble and ran out of gas with just over four laps left.

Edwards, whose lone win this year came at Las Vegas in March, found consolation in retaining the points lead and in putting distance between himself and third-place Kevin Harvick (33 points back) and fourth-place Matt Kenseth (38 points back).

"Although we would have loved to have won today, to be three points ahead, and then to have the third- and fourth-place guys father behind, it looks like it’s truly going to come down to Tony and I, and that’s going to be a lot of fun," Edwards said.

Kasey Kahne ran third, followed by Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth and seventh, respectively.

Stewart had led 142 laps by the time Joey Logano’s Toyota dropped oil on the backstretch on Lap 261, causing the fourth caution of the race. Edwards, Stewart and the five cars behind took right-side tires only on Lap 263.

Edwards got a huge jump on the restart on Lap 267 and pulled away to a lead of more than one second before NASCAR called the fifth caution on Lap 270 for debris in Turn 3. The first 13 cars stayed out under the yellow, and Stewart stayed with Edwards on a restart on Lap 275, moving around the No. 99 Ford to the outside.

"I think if I could have stayed in front of him, I’d have been able to get him," Edwards said. "The restart before that, he spun his tires, and I felt really good about that one, (but) he timed it just right on that last restart and hung on my door.

"I give those guys credit. They’ve done a good job, but now we get to pull out all the stops here. We’ve been hanging on, we’re leading these points, we get to pull out all the stops these last two races, and there couldn’t be a better place to finish it than Homestead. I think folks ought to stay tuned. It’s going to get pretty exciting, and I’m just glad Tony and I are out there, and we can race for this thing."

Notes: Subbing for Kyle Busch, who was parked by NASCAR for wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution in Friday's truck race at Texas, Michael McDowell finished 33rd, three laps down, which shows how much Busch is carrying that slow car. ... Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman were eliminated from title contention.

Results

FIN CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 48/2 334 Running
2 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 43/1 334 Running
3 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 42/1 334 Running
4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 41/1 334 Running
5 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Scotch-Blue Painter's Tape 40/1 334 Running
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 38/0 334 Running
7 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard "Trained by Tradition" / AMP Energy 37/0 334 Running
8 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 36/0 334 Running
9 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 35/0 334 Running
10 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford "Immortals" / Best Buy 34/0 334 Running
11 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 33/0 334 Running
12 6 David Ragan Ford UPS My Choice 32/0 334 Running
13 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem 31/0 334 Running
14 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet MyLowe's 31/1 334 Running
15 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards 30/1 334 Running
16 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken Loans Carrier Classic 29/1 334 Running
17 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 334 Running
18 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 26/0 334 Running
19 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Carquest / GoDaddy.com 25/0 334 Running
20 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 24/0 334 Running
21 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 23/0 334 Running
22 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 22/0 334 Running
23 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 21/0 334 Running
24 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 21/1 334 Running
25 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 19/0 334 Running
26 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 332 Running
27 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 18/1 332 Running
28 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Wounded Warrior Project 16/0 332 Running
29 71 Andy Lally * Ford TRG Motorsports 15/0 332 Running
30 22 Kurt Busch Dodge AAA 14/0 331 In Pit
31 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 0 331 Running
32 34 David Gilliland Ford Front Row Motorsports 12/0 331 Running
33 18 Michael McDowell Toyota M&M's 11/0 331 Running
34 32 Mike Bliss Ford Street King 0 329 Running
35 135 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Big Red 9/0 316 Running
36 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat 8/0 295 Running
37 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 7/0 258 Out of Race
38 36 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet Luke & Associates 6/0 215 In Pit
39 46 Scott Speed Ford Green Stuff Absorbent 0 30 In Pit
40 66 Josh Wise Toyota HP Racing LLC 0 23 In Pit
41 37 Mike Skinner Ford Max Q Motorsports 0 19 In Pit
42 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 14 In Pit
43 55 J.J. Yeley Ford Ingersoll Rand 1/0 10 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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