Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart set up one-race title battle as Kasey Kahne wins at Phoenix

Tony Stewart leads Carl Edwards out of Turn 4 at Phoenix. Edwards finishes second and Stewart third, with Edwards staying three points ahead of Stewart with one race left in the Chase.

Associated Press

Tony Stewart leads Carl Edwards out of Turn 4 at Phoenix. Edwards finishes second and Stewart third, with Edwards staying three points ahead of Stewart with one race left in the Chase.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — As Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart have gone round-for-round in their race for the Sprint Cup title, Kasey Kahne has turned his performance up a notch outside of the championship spotlight.

Kahne's performance the past nine weeks has trailed only the two title contenders, and on Sunday, he finally got a win.

Kahne snapped an 81-race winless streak with his victory in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, where Edwards and Stewart finished second and third, respectively, to keep the title race tight headed into next weekend's season finale.

Edwards kept his three-point lead over Stewart into the 36th and final race next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, marking the closest championship battle since the Chase for the Championship format made its debut in 2004.

The two were nearly giddy discussing the title race as they sat side-by-side in the postrace news conference.

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a dead heat going in there," said Stewart. "I want to go to Homestead tomorrow and start. I want tomorrow to be Friday. I'm pumped up, I'm excited about it and ready to go."

So was Edwards.

"This is going to be a battle. I truly believe it's going to be a good race," Edwards said. "That place is magical for us. I really enjoy going there. I hope it comes down to the fastest guy winning the race."

Sunday also marked the end of Jimmie Johnson's five-year reign as Chase champion: He finished 14th and was mathematically eliminated from title contention.

"It's been one hell of a run," he posted on Twitter shortly after the race.

Stewart, winner of four Chase races this season, dominated Sunday at Phoenix and led 160 of 312 laps. But he had to pit for gas with 18 laps left, and had to work back to the front. He needed a late pass of Jeff Burton to finish third, right behind Edwards.

"I wasn't going to give him the spot. He earned it, and he got it," Burton said.

Stewart earned a bonus point for leading the most laps, keeping his margin the same.

"We had an awesome day. We came up two spots shy. I don't know how you could have asked for a better day," he said. "We led the most laps, we were on the same pace we were last week, just to have a perfect day."

Edwards got the result he needed after having to chase Stewart most of the race. Now he holds the edge with his first Cup championship in reach.

Edwards is a two-time Homestead winner and drives for Roush Fenway Racing, which has won seven of the past nine races on the 1½-mile oval.

"It's the best points battle I've been a part of at this level, so it's fun for me," Edwards said. " …It's been neat that this battle has brought out the best in us."

Zephyrhills' David Reutimann, told two weeks ago he was losing his job at Michael Waltrip Racing, was seventh. Kyle Busch, racing again after NASCAR parked him at Texas last weekend for intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday, was third before his engine failed. He finished 36th.

Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart set up one-race title battle as Kasey Kahne wins at Phoenix 11/13/11 [Last modified: Sunday, November 13, 2011 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.