MIAMI -- If the Sprint Cup championship were decided by Thursday's Champion's Press Conference, Tony Stewart would have been the winner in a fourth-round knockout.
Stewart and Carl Edwards traded barbs and wisecracks during a spirited media session as a prelude to their battle for the series title in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While Edwards has a three-point lead over Stewart heading into the final race of the season, you'd never know it from Thursday's at time hilarious press gathering.
"We're not trying to overcome a big deficit," said a confident and laid back Stewart. "We're right there right behind him. For us, like I said, we can finish 43rd this weekend and not be any worse off than we are right now, so we don't have anything to lose. We can throw everything we got at it. If we make a mistake doing it, it doesn't cost anything. There's no penalty for us screwing up."
Not to be outdone, Edwards countered by saying he's also feeling confident about his chances Sunday and that he's doing a good job to keep the pressure at bay.
"I don't really have any nerves," he said. "We've been running well, earned our spot at the top of the standings. I'm excited to have this opportunity to go out and win this championship. We couldn't feel better about the racetrack. We feel really good about the race.
"It's pretty fun. I'm enjoying it. I'm just looking forward to going out there and racing the car."
Throughout this championship battle the two drivers have shown great restraint from getting involved in a war of words or mind games with one another. Mutual respect for one another has been the key message point delivered from both, including after their finishes of second and third last week in Phoenix to set up this week's three-point fight for the crown.
But things broke lose on Thursday much to the delight of both competitors as well as the press corps on hand to cover the event.
When Stewart was asked if "Boys Have at It" might play into deciding the outcome of Sunday's race if he and Edwards were battling for the win he didn't hesitate to answer.
“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship. I’d wreck your mom [the reporter who asked the question] to win a championship," he said. "I respect [Edwards] as a driver, but this isn’t about friendships this weekend. This is war. This is battle. This is for a national championship. It’s no-holds barred this weekend. I didn’t come this far to be one step away from it and let it slip away, so we’re going to go for it."
Edwards sat back while Stewart talked about his previous two titles and how that experience may help his cause in this year's quest for the championship. He finally paused and replied with this gem:
"That the funny thing. I’ve listened to you talk a lot today," Edwards said. "You’ve talked a lot about your past successes. That is very respectable. And truly, all joking aside, that will make it more fun if we’re able to beat you, it will make me more proud."
Undaunted, Stewart didn't hesitate to retaliate.
"It’s like Kid Rock said: 'It’s not cocky if you can back it up,'" he said. "I think we’ve been backing it up the last three weeks."
Hopefully the racing will be as entertaining as Thursday's warmup.
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