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Stewart wins again, sets up Chase thriller

Just 3pts separates the top two in the Sprint Cup, after Tony Stewart took his fourth win in the eight races of the Chase so far and Carl Edwards finished second.
Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards conspired to set up a thrilling end to the 2011 Sprint Cup Chase battle, finishing 1-2 in the AAA Texas 500 to close the gap between them at the top of the standings to just three points.

Stewart had laid down a verbal challenge to Edwards after winning at Martinsville last week, but few expected him to deliver on his words quite so quickly or emphatically as he did at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon, a track that had traditionally been one of Edwards' strongest.

"I told you guys that last week! Nobody listens to me when I talk anymore," said Stewart in victory lane. "We are set on it man, this is just the way it is going to be!"

Polesitter Greg Biffle had led the first 23 laps of the race, but then Matt Kenseth took over and dominated the next 88 laps with the exception of some green flag pit stop sequences, right up until the first caution of the afternoon (for debris) on lap 111 - setting a new record for the most consecutive laps under green at the start of a race at Texas.

Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards had never been very far back from the lead, and at the restart Stewart saw his chance to go side-by-side with Kenseth and claim the lead for himself. Edwards, however, wasn't able to match their pace and started sinking back down the top ten, struggling with the car's loose handling as crew chief Bob Osborne confirmed that the #99 simply had too much camber in the right-front tyre during this stint.

After the cars had gone through a another sequence of green flag pit stops - Stewart only briefly losing the lead as the stops cycled through - a second caution came out on lap 201 as Geoffrey Bodine got encouraged into a spin by contact with Juan Montoya and Brian Vickers. Kasey Kahne had been on pit road when the caution came out and as a result led the restart, and even though Stewart blasted away and immediately resumed the top spot Kahne was nonetheless able to stay with him, and parlayed his good fortune into a strong race position for the rest of the afternoon.

Stewart was still leading Kahne when a caution came out on lap 240 for a spin by Jimmie Johnson sending the #48 sliding through the infield grass coming off turn 4. "Just a loose car," explained Johnson. "I fought a loose race car all night long ... I think sliding through the grass did some damage underneath," he continued. "It may have been the rear end or something, because it didn't really drive really good after that. We were loose, but fast beforehand and then after the spin, that really hurt the car." He would eventually recover to finish 14th.

Stewart and Kahne formed up the front row again at the restart and continued to run one-two until the fourth caution of the afternoon triggered by Joey Logano's engine blowing up, and this time Edwards - much happier now with the #99's handling - was able to beat Stewart off pit road and keep the lead at the restart after Stewart had a poor getaway. Unfortunately for Edwards it proved to be a short-lived green before another debris caution, and at the next restart on lap 275 Stewart was able to blast past Edwards for the lead. No one, it seemed, was able the match the #14 for raw speed today.

"On that last restart, I think if I could have stayed in front of him, I'd have been able to get him," said Edwards after the race. "The restart before that he spun his tyres and I felt really good about that one, [but] he timed it just right on that last restart and hung on my door."



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Michael McDowell sits in the #18 M&M`s Toyota after Kyle Busch was parked for the weekend prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas. [Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR]
David Ragan, bottom, driver of the #6 UPS My Choice Ford and Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M Scotch-Blue Painter`s Tape Ford, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, leads Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. [Picture Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images]
Mark Martin on track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. [Picture Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 MyLowe`s Chevrolet, spins out into the infield grass after an incident in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. [Picture Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, performs a burnout in celebration after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. [Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. With him are Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS who finished second, and Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Greg Ives, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS Sunday, May 3, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. This was Earnhardt, Jr.`s sixth victory at Talladega. Johnson finished second behind Earnhardt, Jr. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Ryan Reed, driver of the #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford, Kenny Wallace, driver of the #26 JGL Racing Toyota, Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Uncle Bob`s Self Storage Chevrolet, and John Wes Townley, driver of the #25 Zaxby`s Chevrolet, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Kahne is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Pole winner Jeff Gordon, driver of the #5 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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