Tony Stewart or Carl Edwards? NASCAR’s 36th and final Sprint Cup race of the year takes place at the Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend and the championship will go to one of the two. The pair finished second and third at Phoenix last Sunday – Edwards ahead of Stewart – and Carl leads Tony by just three points. Edwards will be trying to win his first Sprint Cup championship next weekend while Stewart will be going after his third title and first as an owner/driver.
Edwards has driven for Jack Roush’s four-car Ford team since breaking into NASCAR’s premier division in 2004. Edwards finished second in the Sprint Cup championship in 2008 and won two of the last three races at Homestead-Miami.
“I’m excited,” Edwards said. “It’s going to be a battle. I truly believe it’s going to be a good race. Tony’s been running really well everywhere so they’re going to be on their game. But that place is magical for us, I really enjoy racing there. At the end of the day I hope it’s a good, hard race. I hope it comes down to the fastest car winning the championship. That would be cool.”
Stewart won the championship in 2002 and ‘05 with Joe Gibbs’s team and started his own team, Stewart/Haas Racing, in 2009. The team’s chassis and Chevrolet engines are supplied by Hendrick Motorsports. Stewart set the pace for much of the way at Phoenix, leading 150 laps and getting the bonus points for most laps led.
“We had an awesome car today,” Stewart said. “At the end we made another tyre pressure change and finally went too far. But we did almost everything we needed to do. We led the most laps and just came up two spots shy. We were a little bit too loose on entry at the end but we were able to get back to third. So we’re keeping him honest. We’re racing for every single point we can get.”
Last Sunday’s race in Phoenix was won by Kasey Kahne who scored his first win in two years and 81 starts. Kahne has driven for the Red Bull team this year but will join Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports next year replacing veteran Mark Martin. Red Bull has run a NASCAR team since 2007 but Deitrich Mateschitz has decided to pull out of stock car racing and the team is for sale. A buyer has yet to be found but the team hopes to continue in business next year.
Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson has not been quite as strong this year. He’s won only two races this season and had a bad day at Phoenix last weekend. Johnson is fifth in the points table, 68 behind Edwards, and has been eliminated from this year’s championship reckoning. But don’t count him out as a potential winner at Homestead next weekend. As Kasey Kahne showed last weekend many drivers and teams are capable of winning in NASCAR.