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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]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 26, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Joe Gibbs Racing`s Ross Kenseth in action during the rain-delayed Owens Corning AttiCat 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday June 21 2015. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Chi-Chi`s/Menards Toyota, races during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway on June 19, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart Haas Racing, and his team pose in an alternate Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Cole Custer driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet poses for photos after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Cole Custer driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet celebrates after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Drivin` for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 13, 2015 in Madison, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Curry/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, battles Brian Scott, driver of the #2 Shore Lodge Chevrolet during the Great Clips 250 benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America. (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)

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