Three points. Two men. One Championship
Kasey Kahne claimed his first victory of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season while Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart maintained the same three-point margin of the tightest Chase in history (photo courtesy: Geoff Burke, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart will head into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup finale this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway with only three points separating the two.
Edwards, who now has had sole possession of the championship lead for the past six races, finished second, one position ahead of Stewart at Phoenix. The points margin remained unchanged after Stewart led the most laps for the third time in the last four races, with 160.
"Every point counts right now," Stewart said. "That’s why we raced Carl (Edwards) so hard and Kasey (Kahne) so hard. We led enough laps to lead the most laps today so we’re going for every single point we can get right now.”
All other drivers were eliminated from championship contention following Phoenix setting up a storied battle between Edwards and Stewart at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The three point margin between first and second going into the final race is the closest since the inception of the Chase in 2004.
"Couldn't ask for any more," said Edwards, who led 27 laps today. "It's neat to go to Homestead and race it out. I'm sure these guys are going to be good down there. They're fast on the mile and a half's. I love that place.
"Just proud of my guys today. They did a great job on pit road. Tony was really fast. We got our car tuned in, were able to go up there and race with him and compete. That was just a good, hard fought day. Just really pumped about Homestead. I think it's going to be a good time."
Edwards has no wins in the Chase, but now heads to one of his best tracks where he's the defending Ford 400 winner.
"I really enjoy racing there," Edwards said about Homestead-Miami. "The cool thing about Homestead, we're going to go there, you're going to be able to move around, pass, not get hung up as badly in traffic as you can at other racetracks. For the sport in general, I don't think there's a better place to go than Homestead to fight for this championship."
Although he has yet to visit Victory Lane since March at Las Vegas, Edwards has only finished outside the Top 10 once (11th at Talladega last month) since late August. His average finish in nine races in the Chase is 5.2.
Stewart, who is shooting for his third Cup Series title, continued his tear in the Chase with his fifth consecutive Top 10, which includes two of his four wins in the Chase.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing," Stewart said. "We have a third and two wins in the last three races so we’re going to keep the pressure on him (Carl Edwards) and we’ll make him sweat it out."
If the championship winds up in a tie at the checkered flag in Sunday's Ford 400, Stewart will take the championship based on wins.
Only one finish guarantees Carl Edwards his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship – a victory in Sunday’s season-finale Ford 400. Just three points separate points leader Carl Edwards and second-place Tony Stewart, a margin so tight, no other finish would clinch the title for Edwards regardless of where Stewart finishes. Stewart owns the tie-breaker (best finishes), and therefore could tie and win his third series championship. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are STILL AVAILABLE. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
All other drivers are officially eliminated from championship contention.
Edwards’ three-point lead roughly translates to 13 points under the previous points system. That makes it the closest margin between first and second going into the final race in Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup history, and third-closest since the inception of the position-based points structure in 1975.
Last year, Homestead-Miami Speedway served as host to a one-race shootout to decide what was the closest Sprint Cup Championship Chase in NASCAR history. And when it was over, Jimmie Johnson had prevailed as the series’ points Champion for an unprecedented fifth straight season. Edwards took the day’s checkered flag in the Ford 400.
Denny Hamlin entered Ford Championship Weekend with a 15-point lead over four-time reigning Champion Johnson and just a 46-point margin over Kevin Harvick.
It all ends here. This year, Homestead-Miami Speedway will crown NASCAR’s Champions for the 10th consecutive year during Ford Championship weekend. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are STILL AVAILABLE. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
How the Championship Contenders have done at Homestead-Miami Speedway:
Stewart: In 12 starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Stewart has two wins (1999, 2000) along with three Top 5 and six Top 10 finishes. He has 0 DNF (did not finish) results and has led 385 of 3209 laps. His average starting position is 14.4 with a finishing position of 12.4.
Edwards: In seven starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Edwards has two wins (2008, 2010) along with four Top 5 and six Top 10 finishes. He has 0 DNF (did not finish) results and has led 385 of 3209 laps. His average starting position is 13.4 with a finishing position of 5.7.