Keselowski dropped to 49pts off Edwards in the Chase standings, while Hamlin eventually finished in 20th position. Along with Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman, Hamlin is almost a hundred points off the points leader and is now mathematically eliminated from title contention following this weekend's race.
However it couldn't be closer at the top of the Chase standings, with just three points - the equivalent of just three places in a single race - separating leader Edwards from Stewart. One slip for either driver and everything could change; but for the moment, it couldn't be pitched better for a thrilling finish to the 2011 Sprint Cup season.
"It does not take much right now, it is one spot if a guy wins the race [to claim bonus points.] We are doing exactly what we need to do, I am really confident right now," said Stewart. "If you can do simple math, you can figure out that we gained over half of it in one week and we have two weeks to go."
"Man, we're gonna hold Tony to it," said Edwards. "They're gonna have to run that well to beat us these next two races and I think, really, it's gonna be a great battle. I'm really excited about it ... We're still the points leaders and the third and fourth guys, I'm not sure how far back they are, but we had to open up a little bit of space on them, which is good," he added.
Kevin Harvick is in third place after a two-tyre gamble in the last round of pit stops saw him slump to 13th at Texas, putting he's 33pts back from the lead - meaning that he basically requires both Stewart and Edwards to each crash out early in one or both of the two remaining races at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami to cut the gap. Matt Kenseth is 38pts back ahead of Keselowski (who is 49pts off Edwards), Jimmie Johnson (55pts back), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (79pts), Jeff Gordon (81pts) and Kurt Busch (87pts).
Full race results
Full championship points