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Tony Stewart wins at Texas, tightens title fight with Carl Edwards

Tony Stewart has been the one to shoot for in the Chase for the Championship, with four victories in seven Chase races.

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Tony Stewart has been the one to shoot for in the Chase for the Championship, with four victories in seven Chase races.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Another round to Tony Stewart, and quite a fight for the Cup title with two races left.

Stewart earned his second consecutive victory, and fourth in eight Chase for the Championship races, finishing just ahead of NASCAR Sprint Cup leader Carl Edwards in Sunday's so-called "Texas Title Fight" that fully lived up to its billing.

And Stewart backed up his challenge.

After winning last week at Martinsville, Stewart got out of his car in Victory Lane and said Edwards "better be worried. That's all I'm saying."

Now it looks to be a two-driver fight for the championship with two races left after they finished 1-2 in the AAA Texas 500 at the 1½-mile, high-banked track. Stewart cut his points deficit from eight to three with an average speed of 152.705 mph, the fastest Cup race at Texas.

"We're set on it, man. This is just the way it's going to be," Stewart said. "I don't think we have to say anything (else). I think our performance today speaks for itself. (Edwards) knows already, trust me."

The series returns next week to Phoenix, where the track has been reconfigured and resurfaced since Stewart was seventh and Edwards 28th in February in the second race this season. Then the finale is Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway; Edwards won at both tracks to end last season.

Stewart led seven times Sunday for a race-high 173 of 334 laps. On a restart with 60 laps left, Edwards was the leader and on the inside of Stewart.

Coming out of Turn 2, Stewart shot by onto the backstretch and charged back to the lead.

"He timed it just right," said Edwards, who led for 14 laps.

Stewart stayed in front until both made their final stops with 31 laps left. Though they dropped out of the 1-2 positions on the track during the green-flag stops, it was more important to Stewart that he stayed ahead of Edwards.

The last lead change came with five laps left when Jeff Burton, trying to match Edwards as a three-time Cup winner at Texas, ran out of fuel while trying to stretch his last tank to the end.

Stewart and Edwards were greeted at Texas with lockers complete with boxing gloves and robes, a tale of the tape and banners declaring a "Texas Title Fight." Another banner hung near Victory Lane featuring boxing promoter Don King and track president Eddie Gossage.

Kyle Busch, forced to sit out as punishment for intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday in Friday's trucks race, was eliminated from title contention. Michael McDowell finished 33rd in his place in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car. Busch issued an apology Saturday night and said he understood why NASCAR parked him for the weekend.

.Fast facts

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 152.705 mph

Time of race: 3 hours, 16 minutes, 51 seconds

Margin of victory: 1.092 seconds

Caution flags: 5 for 21 laps

Lead changes: 23 among 10 drivers

Lap leaders: Biffle 1-23; Kenseth 24-42; Stewart 43-45; Kenseth 46-88; Edwards 89-90; Kenseth 91-112; Edwards 113; Menard 114; Kenseth 115-116; Stewart 117; Kenseth 118; Stewart 119-158; Johnson 159; Keselowski 160-161; Stewart 162-202; Kahne 203-206; Stewart 207-263; Edwards 264-274; Stewart 275-300; Kahne 301; Burton 302-319; Newman 320-323; Burton 324-329; Stewart 330-334

Sprint Cup points

With two races to go, only the top nine drivers are mathematically eligible in the Chase for the Championship:

Driver Pts. Back

Carl Edwards 2,316—

Tony Stewart 2,313 3

Kevin Harvick 2,283 33

Matt Kenseth 2,278 38

B. Keselowski 2,267 49

J. Johnson 2,261 55

D. Earnhardt Jr. 2,237 79

Jeff Gordon 2,235 81

Kurt Busch 2,229 87

Denny Hamlin 2,217 99

Kyle Busch 2,216 100

Ryan Newman 2,213 103

Up next

Kobalt Tools 500, 3 p.m. Sunday, Phoenix International Raceway TV: ESPN

Tony Stewart wins at Texas, tightens title fight with Carl Edwards 11/06/11 [Last modified: Sunday, November 6, 2011 8:58pm]
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