Monday, November 7, 2011

Stewart Bats .500

Tony Stewart won his fourth race out of the eight Chase races.  Stewart led 173 of the 334 laps at Texas Motor Speedway, and came even closer to his 3rd Sprint Cup Championship.  Carl Edwards finished second at Texas, and was able to hold on to his point lead.  Edwards is three points ahead of Stewart with two races to go in the Chase.
Tony Stewart stands in Victory Lane for the fourth time in the 2011 Chase (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 Chase drivers Matt Kenseth (4th), Jeff Gordon (6th), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7th) also finished in the Top 10.  Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson finished 13th and 14th, respectively.  Ryan Newman was 16th, and Denny Hamlin was 20th.  The Penske Racing cars did not run well at Texas; Brad Keselowski finished 24th, and Kurt Busch finished 30th.

Stewart leads Edwards late in the AAA Texas 500 (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 The big story of the weekend pertained to another Chase driver.  Kyle Busch was parked by NASCAR, after intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday under caution in the Truck race Friday night.  Here is a link to the video:  Kyle Busch was parked for the rest of the Truck race Friday night, and Mike Helton announced on Saturday that Busch would not be racing in either the Nationwide or Cup events this weekend.  Denny Hamlin was in the car for Busch in the Nationwide Series, while Michael McDowell took the reigns of the 18 car in the Cup Series.  Busch was atop the pit box for the entire Cup event.

It has become a two-man race for the Sprint Cup Championship.  While Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are only three points apart, the next closest Chaser, Kevin Harvick, is 33 points out of first.  After Texas, the Chase field has been cut to 9 drivers.  The bottom three drivers (Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman) are now mathematically eliminated.  Here are the point standings after Texas, courtesy of

There are now only two races left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  The Championship battle is shaping up to be a dogfight between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart.  Next week, the Cup Series rolls into Phoenix, which has been repaved since the last time the Cup Series raced there.  I'm still going to pick Carl Edwards to win the championship, but it is hard to go against Stewart.  In fact, the last driver not named Jimmie Johnson to win the Sprint Cup Championship was Tony Stewart, way back in 2005.  Tune in to the Kobalt Tools 500 from Phoenix International Raceway next Sunday, where Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart will move closer to hoisting the Sprint Cup Trophy.

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