Tony Stewart took his fourth race since the Chase began and shows no signs of stopping in his bid to overtake Carl Edwards in the points and make sure that he is the first man to win a championship that is not named Jimmie Johnson. After all, he is also the last man to win it before Jimmie started his reign for the past 5 seasons. While we all hear the quotes from Tony Stewart just 8 weeks ago, and how he thought his team was not running good enough to make a run at it, he is now only 3 points behind and showing that hard work, determination, and sometimes shooting yourself in the foot, can get you anywhere.
Now Stewart has definitely changed his tune from his words at the beginning of the Chase and has been trash talking Edwards making sure he knows that he is coming to get him.
“I don’t think we have to say anything,” Stewart said in Victory Lane. “I think our performance spoke for itself. He knows we’re there — trust me. … Carl kept us honest. 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.”
Edwards, never adding fuel to the war of words, handled his second place finish with his usual smile and class.
“Although we would have loved to have won, to be three points ahead, and then to have the third- and fourth-place guys farther 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.
“I think if I could have stayed in front of him, I’d have been able to get him,” said Edwards. “The restart before that, he spun his tires, and I felt really good about that one, 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.”
As the final laps drew to a close and Jeff Burton held off the field by not pitting in sequence, it looked like Tony was going to have to settle for second place after dominating and leading the most laps all day, but with 5 laps to go Burtons gamble failed as he ran out of gas and Stewart sailed past him, holding off Carl Edwards for the win.
“It was worth a try. We thought we could save that much. I don’t know if we weren’t quite full that time, if we got a false [fuel mileage] reading the time before, or something; but we weren’t even close.
“We saved a lot of fuel, and to be that far off — we were a lap-and-a-half off of our calculations. So something didn’t add up. We thought we had to save six laps and if we’d have saved six laps it would have been close.
“But it ended up we had to save a lot more than that.”
Kasey Kahne had a strong run ending with a 3rd place finish. One of his best showings this year for the #4 Red Bull team. With the Red Bull team folding at the end of the season Kahne is still showing that he can run up front and challenge for the win.
“I watched Tony and Carl,” said Kahne, who finished third behind Stewart and Edwards. “They’re going for it. Tony raced me as hard as he ever raced me. I had to race as hard as I could. They’re trying to get as many points as they can.”
“It’s intense, trying to win these races right now. It’s super close.”
“The Red Bull team just keeps doing a good job,” Kahne said. “They’re working hard. It’s pretty impressive for a lot of them — not knowing their future, not knowing what’s going on there, if there will be a two-car team or one-car team — to keep putting the cars on the track like they are.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also had a strong run finishing inside the top ten again and proving that their team, although not yet winning, is working hard to get that result. Finishing in 7th place on the track allowed Dale Jr to move up in the standings to 7th.
This new points system has proven that NASCAR actually does know what they are doing sometimes. Giving us some of the most exciting racing since every point counts, and making the chase even more exciting than is has been for the 2 seasons previous by tightening up the points race. That, coupled with their strong punishment handed out to Kyle Busch has shown me that the powers that be actually do listen to the fans sometimes, and sometimes they even get it right.