Stewart’s Chase Rampage Continues At Texas
Tony Stewart ’s mad dash through the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship continued on Sunday when he won the AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The victory was the fourth through eight Chase races for Stewart. And the victory came in convincing fashion as he led 173 of 334 laps.
The victory was not enough, however, to give him the Chase lead as Carl Edwards – who started the day as Chase leader and eight points ahead Stewart – finished second.
Edwards will head to Phoenix next week three points ahead of Stewart.
“This is the way it’s going to be,” Stewart said of his battle with Edwards. “Do not count us out of this thing, I can tell you that.”
“I’m proud of our guys today,” Edwards said. “We wanted to beat Tony and pad the lead, but we are still the point’s leader. We are going to hold Tony to it and they are going to have to run that well in the next two races to beat us.”
It does indeed look like it will come down to Edwards and Stewart over the final two races as they put some comfortable space between themselves and others who had started the Texas race in contention.
Third-place Kevin Harvick fell back 33 points behind Edwards. Matt Kenseth, in fourth place, is 38 points behind.
Kasey Kahne finished third and Kenseth fourth on Sunday.
Fifth was Greg Biffle. Jeff Gordon was sixth.
Rounding out the top 10 were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and A.J. Allmendinger.
The victory was the 43rd of Stewart’s career.
He assumed control of the race a third of the way through. He lost it late on pit stops.
Edwards restarted the race with 68 laps to go and began to put some distance between himself and Stewart, who restarted second. But four laps later, a debris caution was called.
With 60 laps to go, Edwards again restarted as the leader. But this time Stewart quickly moved past to retake the lead and he began to pull away. Ten laps after the restart, Stewart’s lead was almost a second.
With 33 laps to go, Stewart and Edwards headed into the pits under green nose to tail for their final stops of the race. Stewart came out first and when the pitting cycled through, he had regained his lead. Second was Kahne and Edwards was third.
That’s the way they finished.
“On that last restart,” Edwards said, “I think if I could have stayed in front of him, I’d have been able to get him. The restart before that he spun his tires and I felt really good about that one, and he timed it just right on that last restart and hung on my door.”
Stewart, despite Edwards’ thin points lead, is one confident driver on one confident team as they head to the desert.
“Well, if you can do simple math,” Stewart said, “you can figure out that we gained over half of it in one week and we have two weeks to go. It does not take much right now, it is one spot if a guy wins the race, we are doing exactly what we need to do, I am really confident right now.”
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