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Stewart wins again, sets up Chase thriller

Now the issue was fuel and when to come in for their final scheduled pit stops. Stewart, Edwards and Kahne came in for theirs on lap 302; a few hardy souls pushed it to lap 308, but only Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman tried the seemingly impossible gambit of running to the end without any pit stop at all. They duly traded the lead over the next 20 laps while also trying to save as much fuel as possible; but when no further cautions appeared it was clear that the gambit was a bust. Newman pitted for fuel ten laps shy of the end, and Burton ran dry five laps later.

That handed the lead back to Stewart with less than five laps remaining to the end. Stewart had a lead of over a second over Edwards, who was in turn comfortably ahead of Kahne, Kenseth, Biffle and Jeff Gordon, and they duly made up the top six at the chequered flag.

It was Tony Stewart's 43rd career victory in his 462nd Cup race, and his second win at Texas in 20 visits. Stewart's four wins in 2011 have all come in the Chase, which ties Jimmie Johnson's record for most wins in a single Chase campaign as well as tying Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch for the most wins of 2011. He also added the bonus point for most laps led at Texas, 173 out of the full race distance of 334.

"I don't think we have to say anything, I think our performance today spoke for itself," said Stewart. He added that he felt that "if I could get the restart on him [Edwards] and get ahead of him, I thought we could stay there. That was the difference and the guys had an awesome pit-stop at the end. If they would not have had that pit-stop we would not be here."

Edwards was also more than happy with his own second place. "I'm proud of our cars for turning what looked like was gonna be a bad night overall, or a disaster really in the points, to something that is real manageable and something we can move forward with," said Edwards. "Obviously, we definitely wanted to beat Tony tonight and pad that lead a little bit, but at the end of the day we can walk out of here with our heads up."

It was a poor day for Joe Gibbs Racing, however. None of the team's three cars seemed to have much pace and didn't feature toward the front all afternoon, even before Logano's engine blew up on lap 262. Michael McDowell - substituting in the #18 for Kyle Busch who was parked from the race by NASCAR following an on-track clash with Ron Hornaday in the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night - could only manage 31st after starting from the rear of the field because of the driver change, and then struggling with the handling of the car.

"Just a tough day for us. We were hoping for more, but for me it was just great," said McDowell, who is usually one of the "start and park" drivers in his usual #66 entry. "I was planning on doing 20 laps this week, so I think I did 310 more than I was planning on.

"My ability is not going to change overnight. You get into a car. You haven't worked with the crew chief ... " But he added that the weekend had been a "great opportunity to work with a great team and just see how they do things a little bit different."

The third JGR team member, Denny Hamlin, was hit by Brad Keselowski on pit road on lap 271 when the #2 tried reversing out of its pit box after being blocked in ahead by Ryan Newman. Keselowski took the blame for the collision, which left him with bodywork damage - "It was my fault, 100 percent", he admitted - but emphasised that it had started with Newman, "who didn't even try to get into his pit stall and made every effort he could to block us in."

Saying that Newman was acting on team orders, Keselowski continued: "He deserves his ass kicked for that. Lost all respect from me. I lost my cool accordingly, and forgot about [Hamlin] behind and backed into him. It hurts our shot [at the Sprint Cup title.]"



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]
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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