Tag:Texas Motor Speedway
Posted on: November 7, 2011 12:12 pm

Around the circuit - weekend web wrap

Posted by Pete Pistone

News, notes and observations from around the World Wide Web in the aftermath of the weekend's racing at Texas Motor Speedway:

VIRGININAN-PILOT - "Tony Stewart After Win; 'Told You So'" 

GASTON GAZETTE - "Stewart wins Again but Edwards Second"

SPEEDTV.COM - "Evernham on Kyle Busch"

USA TODAY - "Kyle Busch's Primary Sponsor 'Very Disappointed' in Him"

THE NASCAR INSIDERS - "Kyle Got What he Deserved"

NASCAR EXAMINER - "Busch Apology Rings Hallow, Should Gibbs Park him for the Season?"

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2011 9:11 pm

Tony Stewart, Darian Grubb post Texas comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Q.  You obviously had a great racecar.  There were a couple times during the race Tony hauled it up on his back a little bit.  Did you feel at times he was doing a little extra behind the wheel?    

DARIAN GRUBB:  He definitely did.  Just like Martinsville when we were getting ready to go a lap down.  He keeps fighting, finds that extra 3/10ths in the car.  We fell back.  You could tell the handling was going away a little bit.  The other guys were running up on him a little bit.  He got more speed out of the car and started moving forward after those guys fell off a little bit.  He did a great job adapting to what the car needed.            

Q.  Correct me if I'm wrong.  Have there been many instances this season where from start to finish of a race weekend you have been as strong as you were here?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  I think if you look back early in the season we kind of had some of those same stats going, we just didn't get the finishes like we needed at the end.  Las Vegas is one we qualified, stayed up front, dominated the race, had bad luck and finished second.  Kick myself now, because I wish we did two tires there at the end again to pull off that win instead of Carl.           

Those are points we knew we gave up early in the season.  It's good to have a weekend like this, give everybody that extra shot of confidence to know they can get it done.           

The setups we have are working.  Knowing we have the mile-and-a-half come up at Homestead, hopefully we'll take a lot of these things there and have that same speed.           

Q.  A question about momentum.  Four wins in eight weeks.  I may have this a little bit wrong, but when you substituted for Chad you had two wins with Jimmie.  Does momentum mean anything to you guys?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  Yeah, that was two wins in four weeks.  It's definitely momentum and just the attitude that you carry.  You come in with a little bit more of a pep in your step and you're bouncing around because you know you can get it done.           

Having that extra confidence means a lot, being able to go in, keep your head up, keep working on everything that you think you need to work on, work through practice plans like you think you need to.  When you unload fast, you can afford to work on those things like we did this weekend.            

Q.  You were around the 99 it seemed like in practice and everything.  Talk about the weekend with them.  Was it fun?  What was it like?

DARIAN GRUBB:  It's definitely fun.  It's one of those things where we go out there and have a good time with it.  We do the same job week in and week out regardless of what's going on around us.  When everything happened with the 18 car, it seemed like all the media disappeared away from us.  Every camera was in our stall for the first practice, but after that everybody kind of disappeared.  Bob and I were joking, I'm going to get up in your face and say, What are you having for dinner tonight?          

It's fun.  We have fun with it.  We're all there to get the job done.  We're not there to do the pomp and circumstance and all these other things.  We want to do what we've got to do to make fast racecars.            

Q.  It seems like through the first 26 races of the regular season, it was a struggle.  Once the Chase starts it's like this light bulb moment went off.  Was there one indeed once the Chase started?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  I really don't think so.  We had strong cars, we just didn't get the finishes.  We got in a little bit of a slump in the middle of the summer where it seemed like anything we did didn't go right.  We would have a pit call, it would bite us, next week try to do it again.  Worked one week, wouldn't work the next.          

Just as the Chase started, we got the momentum on our side with the first two wins.  Keep it rolling now.  It's been better ever since.            

Q.  Were you confident all the way there was no way Burton could make it to the finish?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  Pretty confident.  Just the lap they pitted on, we knew they were going to have a hard time stretching it that far.  At that point we were also gaining on them a second a lap.  It was going to pretty much add up we were going to catch them there with one or two to go.  We were trying to get everything we could get.            

Q.  When Burton went into the lead and Tony lost a couple of positions after the last fuel stop, you didn't get panicked?  What did you tell Tony over the radio?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  No, we were pretty confident that they couldn't make it from that early.  If they did, the speed was going to have to be so slow.  We thought we could catch them anyway.  We told him to worry about the 99 that was behind him.  Hopefully it was going to work out.  If nothing else, it was going to be a great points day for us and be ahead of Carl.  We just have to keep fighting for all those points.           

Q.  I know the 99 car had a right front tire problem early on.  Nobody likes right front tire problems.  What were you thinking?  Did you see anything at all?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  We had the same issues.  Pretty much everybody in the garage that was running those speeds did.  The tire is a good tire.  That's the limit of what you can do.  I'm sure Goodyear is going to come back with something a little bit different.  If not, the race is even more exciting with that.  The way the tires fall off the fuel windows were getting shorted anyway.  We had to make sure we take care of it.  If you got really tight, you had to be even more careful.            

Q.  Going into Phoenix, do you look forward to something like that, where you don't have a whole lot of notes, it's going to be more I don't want to say seat of your pants?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  We really do because it's something where we did the tire test there, the open test.  We have four full days of data that we've been digging through for a month and a half.  We're looking forward to going there and seeing if everything we learned while we were there still applies.           

The track is going to change while we're there with all the practice we have.  We have to be smart how we adapt to those changes.  Hopefully we're going to have that speed.           

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.  Congratulations.           

The man next to you doesn't need any introduction, the winner of tonight's race, Tony Stewart.  It's his second career win at Texas Motor Speedway and fourth in the Chase.  He's three points back of leader Carl Edwards heading into the final two races.           

Tony, talk about your run tonight.           

TONY STEWART:  I think it was all right (smiling).  It was fair.  We probably could have done a better job.          

I don't know what we could have done any different.  We had a good car to start with and the good thing was it was close enough to where Darian was fine tuning all day.  This is a race where the conditions change a bunch from the beginning of the day to the end.  I was real proud we were able to adapt all day long.           

I don't know that we ever got out of the top five there the whole race.  Seemed like we just kind of stayed there, stayed in the top three or four the whole day.  Restarts were key obviously.  But we got a really good restart that last one, had the lead coming into the pit stop.  Our guys did an awesome job in the pits, got us out ahead of him.  That was really the difference, was just being able to get that track position and be able to run our pace versus trying to make something happen to catch him.           

THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Tony.            

Q.  Coming into this weekend, I think Carl felt like advantage them here at Texas.  You come out and you do this.  How big of a message is it to them that maybe what they thought was reality isn't reality?           

TONY STEWART:  We tried to tell them that last week, so...  It is what it is.  I mean, I still stand firm that we're not counting on them to make mistakes.  We're controlling our destiny.  Today is a perfect example of that.  We're worried about what we're doing.  We're not worried about what they're doing.  We raced our race today.  We didn't do anything worrying about what they were doing or how they were doing things.  We just ran our race.  That's what we intend to do the next two weeks.           

It's theirs to lose now.  But I don't know that they have a choice now.  I mean, we did what we said we were going to do.  We're going to take it if we want it.  Today is a perfect example.  We took five points off that deficit today.  We have that ability to do that the next two weeks          

Q.  Just seems like this championship Chase of yours, you're having a lot of fun doing it.  Has this been the most fun of a championship run you've had?          

TONY STEWART:  I think so.  The good thing is we've been in this position a lot of times and this isn't the first time we've been in this deal.  We have that ability.  Like I said, I didn't think we belonged in the Chase to start with, I didn't think we were a factor.  What do we have to lose?  We don't have anything to lose.  I don't care about second or third in the points.  After you won it, second doesn't really matter.           

To me it's about going out, getting that championship, doing everything you can to accomplish that goal.  We're not a group that's going to sit here obviously and say, We'll take the easy road and settle for second.  I'd rather finish sixth or seventh in points knowing that we did everything we can to win.           

That's what we're going to do the next 14 days.            

Q.  Tony, I know you're not worried about the 99 and all that.  But how cool was it to battle it out with him tonight?           

TONY STEWART:  It shows what this Chase is going to be about.  It's a good battle right now.  I mean, this was a good race today.  We never really got far away from each other.  At the end it was down to the two of us.           

I don't know if you're Brian France right now, I would say he's giddy.  If not, he should be, because this is the perfect scenario.  It's the perfect storm, so to speak, going into these last two weeks.  That's what you want.  This is about as exciting as it gets, to have two guys that are down to three points with two weeks ago.            

Q.  He drew a little bit on your picture out there.           

TONY STEWART:  I saw that.  The bad thing is I look really bad to start with.  He actually made me look a little better (smiling).  I think he was actually a little too infatuated with me to be drawing on me.  Kind of scares me he was so concerned about it.            

Q.  Tony, you talked about this a little bit, but you've won a championship before, two of them.  Carl has been in the Chase but has not won a title.  How much of an advantage, if any at all, is that for your group?  How might it be an advantage?           

TONY STEWART:  It's definitely an advantage.  But I'm not going to tell you why 'cause that's what I'm going to take to the next two weeks with me.  We win this thing, I'll tell you what the advantage is and why.  But there's an advantage.            

Q.  Tony, this is the second straight week where on restarts you were so strong coming from the outside, not in the preferred line.  How gratifying is that?          

TONY STEWART:  Yeah, I mean, it's very gratifying.  I thought we were really strong all day on restarts.  I mean, we had the one restart where we took off third there.  We were two-wide with Matt Kenseth going into one for the lead.  We're aggressive right now.  It's like I said, I'm taking charge and trying to control my own destiny.  I think the restarts today showed what our intentions are and what we're about for these next two weeks.            

Q.  Does it feel odd at all winning four races in the Chase and still being the chaser and not the guy being chased?           

TONY STEWART:  Not if you look at how bad a race we had at Dover.  We had to win four races to make up that deficit of what we got ourselves into at the Dover race.           

I'm going to be real disappointed if people are trying to make a story out of a guy that's got four wins isn't leading the points.  It's about 10 weeks.  You got to be good for 10 weeks.  You can't just sit there and say, You can throw it all away to try to win a race and get there.           

We have had to have those four wins to make up for Kansas that we missed an opportunity there, Dover that we just were bad.  We've had to rebound from that.  The good news is our four wins have carried us within three points of the lead.  So I'm proud that we've been able to fight our way back up to it.            

Q.  Tony, can you remember the last time you had such a strong weekend from start to finish?  You were very confident coming here.  You must have felt some reinforcement getting out on the track Friday and being fast in practice and qualifying well.          

TONY STEWART:  We joke around about the Matt Kenseth syndrome.  If he qualifies well, you know he's going to be good in the race.  That was proved today.  He qualified well and he was a factor.  We're kind of in that same boat.  We're not known for qualifying.  For us to qualify fifth, start that far forward, you got a sense it's going to be a decent weekend.           

The thing that we saw on the lap speeds in practice, we didn't have that raw speed at the front of a run, but it seemed like after 10 laps we matched those guys that did have the raw speed.  It seemed like by lap 15 it was kind of going the other way.           

You know that this race most likely is going to be decided in a relatively long run most of the time.  The good thing is it did today.  Other than the traffic we struggled with at the end, we had a really good long run car and that's what you need.            

Q.  Four wins in eight weeks in any Cup season is spectacular.  Are you a believer in momentum?           

TONY STEWART:  It would be hard to not believe in it right now, to be honest.  But still when we get to Phoenix next week, what happened this week and last week are over, and you still got to start that weekend from scratch.           

I think our group is really good at that.  But I think where the momentum carries isn't when you start on Friday, it's tonight through Thursday night.  It's the demeanor of the guys, the guys at the shop, how excited they are, knowing these guys are pumped up about what we got going on.  When you got them working on your racecar, you want them pumped up and excited about how things are going.           

But it's back to business on Friday.  The good thing at the test there, like Darian mentioned, we were really fast at the test.  I'm looking forward to getting there.            

Q.  Last week you told Carl he better worry.  He was a little more subdued in here today than last week.  Any more words of wisdom for Carl Edwards?           

TONY STEWART:  I'm pretty sure what we did on the racetrack said everything we needed to tell him today.  I mean, I don't know how you top that.  He knows.  Trust me, he knows.  If he's out there drawing on me, he knows.           

The fun thing is I don't feel like I have to say anything.  I feel like I already got it done.            

Q.  Clean, professional race today.  Is that a function of the track or some guys more sobering reality this week?  When you get that kind of race for you, is it a pleasure?           

TONY STEWART:  We're not on a half mile anymore.  You're ripping around here, like Darian mentioned.  The speeds we were running today, unbelievable how fast we run here at Texas.  You're not going to get guys doing what they did last week.  Guys don't have to get in that position of trying to take chances and put themselves in bad positions to get to the bottom of the racetrack like they had to do last week.           

I think you kind of throw last week out of the equation.  That's not normal for this series.  You only see it really twice a year at Martinsville.  But that is what makes Martinsville exciting.  At the same time that's why I'm glad we don't run 10 weeks at Martinsville to decide the championship because it would get ugly.           

Yeah, it is nice to come here and know you're not going to have to worry about that.  Guys that had dramas last week had clean races today.  It just shows that a lot of it's a product of how fast we're running here.  Guys have a lot more respect for each other here.           

Q.  Carl said earlier he doesn't want to count anybody out who is still mathematically alive no matter how far they are.  Realistically, he's the guy you're worried about.           

TONY STEWART:  I'm not worried about anybody.  I'm worried about what we're doing, and that's it.  I mean, make no mistakes, understand this when you leave here, for the next two weeks, I don't care what he does.  I didn't care what he did last week.  I didn't care what he did this week.  I was worried about the 14 car and that's all.  That's why we had the result we had today.  We're not worrying about somebody else or something else.          

You're crazy, the way the race went last week, guys having engine problems, you never can count anybody out of the equation.  But I'm one of those guys, I believe there's 35% of the things that happen on a race weekend that we can control and 65% that we can't.  All I care about is that 35% that we can control.  That's all we're going to focus on and worry about.  The rest of it we're not going to worry about what they're doing.           

When you got two weekends in a row like we've had, we don't have to do anything different.  We just got to keep doing what we've been doing, and that's worrying about our own racecar.  Everybody else has to worry about what we're doing, why and how.            

Q.  With going into Phoenix and Homestead the next two weeks, it's been a while since you won at either of those tracks.  Do you think you can get back to Victory Lane at either place?         

TONY STEWART:  Been a while since I won here, but we're here tonight, aren't we?  I don't know how you count us out.  Been a long time since we won at Martinsville and here.  We've done it two weeks in a row.  Yeah, if I ever had confidence that we can do it, yeah, I feel that we can.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 8:36 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2011 9:21 pm

Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne post Texas comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we had a really good Red Bull Toyota. Moved up right away at the start at that long run. Then we just kind of stayed there from about fifth to seventh, trying to get a little bit more speed. The car was just a little bit too loose to get much further than that.           

We pitted. The caution came out. Ended up in the front. Then we were strong. We were battling there with Tony, who I felt was definitely the best car throughout the whole race. We battled with him for a while. Took four, got back to eighth, came back to third.           

It was a good run. Track position was a big deal. Even on those long runs, it would get spread out. The guy out front could make up some ground. You needed to be as close to the front as possible.           

The whole team did a good job. We were pretty close.           

I watched Tony and Carl. They're going for it. Tony raced me as hard as he ever raced me. I had to race as hard as I could. They're trying to get as many points as they can. It's intense trying to win these races right now. It's super close.           

THE MODERATOR: Questions.            

Q. Certainly Tony has been strong here on the mile-and-a-half's. What do you see out of him, that team, during the Chase where things picked up?           

KASEY KAHNE: Well, I mean, they have great cars, great engines. It's a great organization over there. I think what they got in the last little while is confidence. Tony knows he's the fastest guy here. His crew's behind him. They're doing everything right.           

The problem is they're going against Carl, who also think he's the fastest guy here. It's going to be good. It's going to be really good all the way up till the end, especially if nobody has issues car-wise or makes a mistake, crash, get caught up in someone else's deal. It's going to be fun to watch.            

Q. What about you guys? A lot of guys wrote you off.           

KASEY KAHNE: Last week those guys wrecked in front of us. Went four laps down. The Red Bull team just keeps doing a good job. They're working hard. It's pretty impressive for a lot of them not knowing their future, not knowing what's going on there, if there will be a two-car team or one-car team to keep putting the cars on the track like they are.           

I'm happy to come to the track and drive and work with Kenny Francis and the whole team.           

Q. Did y'all have any tire trouble?           

KASEY KAHNE: Yeah, we didn't have any. Kenny thought the left sides were tearing up pretty good, so we took four. I think seven cars in front of us, Carl and Tony, four or five others, took two. We came out eighth just because of that. Seemed like two tires were pretty good. Wasn't a huge advantage to have four like I thought it might be.            

Q. Kasey, don't mean to put you on the spot, but who you putting your money on over the next two weeks?           

KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think I kind of answered that a minute ago. I said Tony thinks he's the guy right now. The guy he's going against think he's the guy. It's going to be a battle to the end.          

Truthfully I have no idea. I know both of them have a lot of confidence and have been strong. It will be interesting. I wish I was in the Chase. But not being in the Chase, it's pretty fun to sit there and watch. I'm excited to watch all the way through the finals at Homestead.           

Q. How much are you looking forward to taking the information you got here with you over to Hendrick Motorsports next season?          

KASEY KAHNE: Well, I think what Kenny Francis does, kind of the way we do things might be a little bit different than Hendrick. The way they do things is really positive, too.           

It will be fun to put it all together. There's tracks where they beat us bad and there's tracks where we run pretty well. Hopefully we can all put it together and make some gains, make Hendrick Motorsports a little bit stronger than it already is.           

THE MODERATOR: Kasey, thank you.           

We're joined in the media center by tonight's second-place finisher, Carl Edwards. He walks away with a three-point lead.           

Carl, you didn't get the win, but you are still at the top of the Chase. Talk about that and your run tonight.           

CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, proud of our guys for turning what looked like was going to be a bad night overall, or a disaster really in the points, into something that was really manageable, something we can move forward with.           

Obviously definitely we wanted to beat Tony tonight and pad that lead a little bit. At the end of the day we can walk out of here with our heads up. We're still the points leaders. The third and fourth guys, I'm not sure how far back they are, but we had to open up a little bit of space on them, which is good.           

Man, we're just going to hold Tony to it. They're going to have to run that well to beat us these next two races. I think really it's going to be a great battle. I'm excited about it.           

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Carl.            

Q. Carl, I had the impression around lap 150 that you lost a little bit of speed and the second part of the race you improved. Can you tell me what kind of changes you had done.           

CARL EDWARDS: We struggled a little bit with the balance. The car was kind of all over the place. I was really proud of the guys for getting it tuned back in. At the end, I think if we would have had one more stop, we could have made another adjustment, made it a little better. I'm sure everybody could say the same thing.          

We never got it quite right. Like I said in here on Thursday or Friday, we gave the best performance we could. We lost a little bit of ground. But it could have been a lot worse. So I'm really proud of my guys. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't do anything differently. That was a good, solid race for us.            

Q. Looking forward to Phoenix, what do you anticipate there? You did two tire tests there. What do you think of the tire? What do you think your chances are? Did you have confidence when you left the place?           

CARL EDWARDS: I think that Phoenix is still a huge unknown. Tony was out there at that tire test with us. I got to see how good those guys were.           

I feel like we're going to be pretty good. Yeah, I think really the surprising thing for all of us today was how well Tony ran here. I didn't expect him to run quite that well. Those guys, they did a really good job. It makes me think that Homestead could be a lot closer than I expected before this race.           

We'll go to Homestead with the same package, same ideas, and hopefully have a similar performance. It looks like Tony might be in the same boat. Their mile-and-a-half program is good.           

We really think next week at Phoenix has a larger opportunity by a landslide to change the outcome of this Chase. That one will be a very important race. You know what I'm saying? If Tony and I run 1-2 at Homestead, there's not going to be much points change if we run like we did tonight, but Phoenix has the potential to be huge.            

Q. Carl, you and Tony raced pretty clean on the track. Tony has been throwing down for the last two weeks. I recall last year Jimmie Johnson talking about Denny Hamlin, Jedi mind tricks. At some point are you going to do your Jedi mind tricks on Tony?           

CARL EDWARDS: No. I go out and compete as hard as I can. It is fun to joke around a little bit. But at the end of the day, I mean, any extra energy I spend thinking about other stuff or worrying about other things is not spent in the right place. I'm focusing on what I'm doing. It would be really fun to be standing up there last one on stage at the banquet. I might have a couple jokes then. That would be a good time for them. I learned early in life you have to be careful about throwing the jabs out there. Somebody might get you.           

Q. Carl, you said you were surprised a little bit about Tony's performance here today. Can you explain why you were surprised. Secondly, that team can say for three straight weeks they've gained points on you. You are still the points leader, but how do you address that with your team because in situations like this it can be easier being the pursuer?          

CARL EDWARDS: I think we're very fortunate to have led the points for as long as we have this season. I think the guys, I know myself, have a certain comfort level with it. We've watched the guys make runs at us and then fall away.           

At the end of the day it truly doesn't matter what the 14 team does or what Tony does or what anyone else does. All we can do is just go do the best we can do. It might feel comfortable to them to be the position they're in, to be gaining points. But truly the past is history. We've got to go out and run these next two races.           

Yeah, I don't underestimate them for a second. I know how good they are. But we're going to be good, as well.            

Q. What surprised you about them tonight?           

CARL EDWARDS: I was surprised they were able to put together two weeks that were so good. That was really good work on their part.  There's nothing saying that that will play into another solid two weeks after that, but it very well could.           

We're going to go home, work hard, put all our notes together from our test at Phoenix, do the best we can.           

From the way practice went and everything, I thought we'd have a little bit more of an advantage. I thought we'd have a little advantage tonight. They did all their jobs very well.            

Q. The last few years in the Nationwide Series till the bitter end you chased the eventual champion, whether it was Kyle or Clint. How do you think that experience of just being there until the very end and never giving up has affected what you're going through right now?           

CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question. I forget about those things. But I guess you keep the lessons with you. I think at least to this point the story of our season, the story of this Chase for us has been never quitting, never giving up. No matter how well someone runs, we're going to be right there racing them every lap, racing them hard.           

I think that having those championship battles in the Nationwide Series, a couple in the Cup Series lately, I think they've made us tougher in general and a little wiser. I guess the best way to sum it up is to say I feel more comfortable in this points battle than in any other points battle I can remember. I feel like we only have to worry about one other guy. We still have the advantage in the points. I've raced Tony long enough, I feel comfortable with him, he's not going to surprise me with anything. I'm grateful for all that experience. I hope I can turn that into a championship.            

Q. It seemed like an extremely clean race. Do you think a lot of the drivers after they kind of saw the 'boys have at it' get out of control Friday night decided to temper things a little bit?           

CARL EDWARDS: This track lends itself to clean racing. It's so fast. It's easy to drive a little bit sideways. You don't lose control as quickly. It's a fun racetrack.           

There might have been a little more restraint on the part of all the drivers just because of what happened. I can say for myself, I didn't really think about it that much during the night tonight. I think Phoenix will be the test. Everybody is going to be fighting for a place in line on the bottom. You'll see the test of how big a message NASCAR got across there at Phoenix.            

Q. Were you at all aware of Burton's fuel situation at the end?           

CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I never cheered so hard for Jeff Burton in my life (smiling). If I could have loaned him some fuel, I would have.        

That's what they had to do. I thought that was a good move. They had to do that. I'm sure Bob thought about doing that, thought about us doing it. But as early as he ran out, I'm glad we didn't. I think we did the right thing to stay out there.          

I'm really proud of Bob. On a side note, I think he's been a really good leader throughout this whole thing. He's not let me lose my head, he's not flailed and tried for something crazy. He's a huge part, if not the most important part, of why we're leading the points right now.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 8:20 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2011 9:18 pm

Speed Read: Texas

By Pete Pistone


AAA Texas 500 Recap

If the Chase wasn’t a two man heavyweight fight coming into Texas it certainly is leaving the Lone Star State.

Carl Edwards leads Tony Stewart by only three points after Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 and with just a pair of races remaining it promises to be a knock down, dragged out fight to Homestead.

Stewart has put together a Chase run of epic proportions, coming into the playoffs winless through the 26-race regular season and now with four victories in eight races.

He’s a man on a mission and spoke like one in victory lane at TMS.

“I told you guys that last week, nobody listens to me when I talk anymore,” a confident Stewart proclaimed. “No, I mean we are set on it man, this is just the way it is going to be.”

Stewart tied Jimmie Johnson’s record of four Chase wins in a single season with his performance on Sunday and seems ready to both break that mark as well as be the driver who ends the five-time champions’s title streak.

Well, if you can do simple math, you can figure out that we gained over half of it in one week and we have two weeks to go,” said Stewart, who whittled Edwards’ advantage to just three points. “It does not take much right now, it is one spot if a guy wins the race, we are doing exactly what we need to do, I am really confident right now.”

But so is Edwards.

Despite still not winning in the Chase, Edwards continues to do what wins NASCAR championships – be consistent.

His second place effort kept his average over the first eight races of the playoffs to just a hair over five and Edwards sees no reason why that won’t continue for the next two weeks.

Edwards doesn’t underestimate Stewart’s worthiness as a championship contender but has more than enough confidence in his ability and team as well.

“I think we're very fortunate to have led the points for as long as we have this season,” said Edwards, who scored his lone win this season in Las Vegas back in March.  “I think the guys, I know myself, have a certain comfort level with it.  We've watched the guys make runs at us and then fall away.

“At the end of the day it truly doesn't matter what the 14 team does or what Tony does or what anyone else does.  All we can do is just go do the best we can do.  It might feel comfortable to them to be the position they're in, to be gaining points.  But truly the past is history.  We've got to go out and run these next two races. Yeah, I don't underestimate them for a second.  I know how good they are.  But we're going to be good, as well.”



Carl Edwards

Stewart got the biggest headline with victory number four of the Chase but Edwards held serve and leaves Texas with the Chase point lead. It won’t bother Edwards one bit if he hangs on to score a career first Sprint Cup title if he goes winless over the final ten races of the season. To his credit he charged as hard as possible on Sunday only to come up one spot short of victory lane but still wound up doing what he needed to do..

Kasey Kahne

He cooled off a little in the last two weeks but Kahne was again impressive in Texas hanging near the front of the field and staying in contention for the win. There’s still nothing firm about Team Red Bull’s future but potential investors have to be taking notice of what Kahne and Kenny Francis continue to accomplish under very difficult circumstances.

Martin Truex Jr.

It wasn’t the best week PR-wise for Michael Waltrip Racing with the way the David Reutimann release went down and the announcement Mark Martin would join the organization next season for a limited schedule. Some question whether MWR can be a legitimate Chase contender next year and Truex Jr.’s performance Sunday was an example of what this team can accomplish.



Kyle Busch

NASCAR’s decision to park Busch for the remainder of the Texas weekend after his truck series race tangle with Ron Hornaday may turn out to be the turning point of Busch’s career. The ramifications of not earning any points in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race may be the least of Busch’s problems who still faces the wrath of team owner Joe Gibbs, sponsor M&M’s and perhaps more sanctions from NASCAR before this chapter of his tumultuous career comes to a close. 

Joey Logano

His run to end last season on a strong note is a faded memory. Logano had a miserable day Sunday that ended up with a thirty-seventh place finish. Between Busch’s issues and the way Logano and his teammate Denny Hamlin ran in Texas, you would not blame Joe Gibbs Racing for hoping these next two weeks go by as fast as possible to put a merciful end to 2011.

Brad Keselowski

The storybook season is just about finished after Keselowski had problems on pit road with Ryan Newman’s team that sent the No. 2 Dodge into Hamlin and leaving the Penske driver with a damaged mount. Keselowski was credited with a twenty-seventh place finish in Texas but is now reduced to the role of championship spoiler. 


(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)  

"I don't know, man. You're going to have to call this. I can't do it." – Tony Stewart to crew chief Darian Grubb regarding a two of four tire pit decision.

"We used to be fast. We need to figure something out." – Joey Logano

“Tell the 11 I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking…tell Ryan to wait til the next time he needs a break because he’s going around.” – Brad Keselowski after his pit road misadventures

"Your top is better than his bottom." – Jeff Gordon’s spotter regarding his line compared to Kasey Kahne

Race Rating

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 a three. There wasn’t any of the sideshow activities that marked last November’s visit to Texas and unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of side-by-side racing either. The first two thirds of the race were pretty sedate and pretty typical mile-and-a-half competition. Business did pick up in the final stages with Jeff Burton’s fuel strategy and the Stewart-Edwards battle on track and in the standings. But there wasn’t as much drama as many hoped for in what has been a pretty interesting Chase so far.


Down the Road

Talladega was considered the Chase wild card race that is until they decided to repave and reconfigure Phoenix International Raceway. All of the sudden the venerable one-mile desert track has been transformed into a brand new speedway that is wider and much faster than its predecessor. There was a two day test about a month ago but basically teams are going into the second to last race of the championship schedule without any idea how to prepare for next Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500. Now that’s what I’d call a real wild card.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 8:17 pm
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Posted on: November 5, 2011 2:10 pm

Texas Happy Hour to Kasey Kahne

By Pete Pistone


Kasey Kahne was the fastest of the weekend's final Sprint Cup Series practice session at Texas Motor Speedway.

The Team Red Bull driver recorded a lap of 185.912 mph in his Toyota to pace the last practice before Sunday's AAA Texas 500.

Marcos Ambrose, David Ragan, Regan Smith and Jeff Burton were the top five.

David Reutimann recorded the sixth fastest lap but hsi team was forced to change an engine and he will start Sunday's race from the rear of the field.

Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart and pole siter Greg Biffle rounded out the first ten.

Kyle Busch sub Michael McDowell was twenty-eighth on the timesheet.

Sunday's AAA Texas 500 is slated for a 3:15 p.m. ET green flag.

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Posted on: November 5, 2011 11:53 am

Carl Edwards leads second Texas practice

By Pete Pistone


Chase for the Sprint Cup point leader Carl Edwards paced Saturday's second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway.

Edwards posted a fast lap of 188.897 mph in the opening of two practices planned on Saturday in preparation for Sunday's AAA Texas 500.

Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and David Ragan rounded out the fast five.

Michael McDowell, subbing for the suspended Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing M&M's Toyota, had the 33rd fastest time of the session.

Happy Hour practice is set later Saturday morning.

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