Tuesday, November 1, 2011

AAA Texas 500 Storylines

Still only one win (Vegas) for Edwards on the season.
As if this year’s edition of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup needed any added heat, Tony Stewart doused the flames with a gallon of verbal gasoline.

Stewart let the world know that he was aiming for points leader Carl Edwards, whose lead shrunk to eight points. Stewart’s third Chase of 2011 moved him to second, cutting the lead to single digits, and inching closer to a possible third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

The Victory Lane quote heard ‘round the world: "Carl Edwards had better be real worried. That's all I've got to say. He's not going to sleep for the next three weeks."

Three races remain until the champion is crowned, with a bout at Texas Motor Speedway up next – Sunday, the AAA Texas 500.

Three races also remain in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, which comes off two consecutive open weeks. In Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hopes to hold off charging Elliott Sadler.

Two races remain in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and a stout effort by Austin Dillon at Martinsville last Saturday has put him ever closer to his first championship. He’ll look to increase an 11-point lead over James Buescher in Friday’s WinStar World Casino 350K at Texas.


That’s Odd: Smoke vs. Edwards
Stewart laid down the challenge to Edwards, is he afraid?
With a come-from-behind victory at Martinsville Speedway, Tony Stewart cut the deficit between he and points leader Carl Edwards to eight points.

This budding feud has some juice behind it. Consider these two marquee drivers “The Odd Couple Of NASCAR.” Tony’s Burger King. Carl’s Subway. Tony’s outspoken, with little worry about being politically correct. Carl’s a sponsor’s dream, always quick to flash a smile. Last week at Martinsville, when asked what NASCAR personality he’d be for Halloween, Tony said anyone sponsored by a beer company, so it could match what he’s drinking. Carl’s probably in a gym as you read this.

This will get interesting.

Stewart Aims For Third Title, History
If Stewart can overcome his eight-point deficit, he would become first owner/driver since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup title. Maybe more impressively, he would join Cale Yarborough, Lee Petty, Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson with three championships. Everyone on that list is either a NASCAR Hall of Famer or a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee.

Stewart won at Texas in 2006, and finished 12th there earlier this season.

Stewart has a better average finish at Texas than Edwards with a 13.2 compared to Edwards 16.5

Edwards’ Chase: Lemons Into Lemonade
Martinsville was the second consecutive race where Carl Edwards viewed a subpar finish as a victory. After a safe effort at Talladega led to an 11th-place finish, Edwards finished ninth after an adventurous Martinsville race. He breathed a sigh of relief after both.

Good news for him: He leads by eight. Better news: Two of his best tracks await: Texas and Homestead.

Edwards started second and finished third at Texas earlier this season. With a series-leading three wins, Texas joins Atlanta as Edwards most prolific track.

Cream of the Crop: Chase Drivers Successful At Texas
Hamlin swept Texas last season, 15th in the spring (Getty)
Nine of the 12 Chase drivers have wins at Texas. The three drivers without a win: Brad Keselowski (fourth in points), Kevin Harvick (third) and Kyle Busch (seventh).

Keselowski’s best finish at Texas is 14th and he finished 18th there earlier this season; Harvick’s best finish is third, and he finished 20th earlier this season; Busch’s best finish is second, and he finished 16th earlier this season.

Denny Hamlin swept both races last season, and Matt Kenseth won at Texas earlier this season.

Full Circle? Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hopes To End Drought At Scene Of First Win
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win drought stands at 126, but Texas offers a storybook opportunity for its end.

On April 2, 2000 at Texas Motor Speedway, Earnhardt nabbed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory. He’s been strong there throughout his career, with an average finish of 14.5. He finished ninth at Texas earlier this season.

- NASCAR Media Services

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