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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."



Related Pictures

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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]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, applies the winner`s decal in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, pits along with the rest of the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 31, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, races to win with Kyle Larson, driver of the 42 Target Chevrolet SS beside him finishing in eighth place Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne, a Hendrick Motorsports driver, is in the Chase. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win with a burnout Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne, a Hendrick Motorsports driver, is in the Chase. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, is congratulated by his Hendrik Motor Sports teammates Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Toughbook Chevrolet SS (left), Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS (center) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS (right) after his victory Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne joins Gordon, Johnson, and Earnhardt Jr. in the Chase. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 31, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. With this win, Kahne, a Hendrick Motorsports driver, is in the Chase.  (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on August 31, 2014 in Bowmanville, Canada. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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