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Power Rankings: Cocky Stewart suddenly impossible to stop

by | CBSSports.com NASCAR Blogger
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Updated Nov. 7

It's a shame the Kyle Busch sideshow had to take the focus away from the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship race in Texas over the weekend.

There may not be five or six drivers still in the title hunt by the time the Homestead finale rolls around as many had hoped, but the two left in the championship will most certainly provide enough drama on their own.

Only three points separate Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart with two races left and neither will back down from the other anytime soon.

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"We're not counting on [Edwards] making mistakes," Stewart said after his fourth win of the Chase Sunday. "We are controlling our destiny. We aren't worried about what they're doing. It's theirs to lose now. I don't know if they have a choice now. We're going to take it if we want it."

That's about as confident Stewart has sounded in years and rightfully so. He's gone from a self-proclaimed afterthought in the championship to a bona fide contender, all in just over two months' time.

Stewart isn't just talking smack, he's backing it up as his dominating win in Texas proved.

"Do not count us out, I can tell you that," Stewart said despite is three point deficit. "But I don't think we have to say anything. Our performance speaks for itself."

But Edwards' performance hasn't been too shabby either.

He kept Stewart in his windshield to finish second Sunday and needs only two more races of solid finishes to hold serve on his point lead and claim Sprint Cup Series crown No. 1.

He has no doubt it can be done.

"They're gonna have to run that well to beat us these last two races," Edwards said about Stewart's team. "I'm going to go out there and compete as hard as I can. It's fun to joke around, but that's extra energy not spent in the right place. I learned early in life, be careful when you throw those jabs, somebody might get you."

Edwards plans to be the one doing the getting.

"The story of our season is never quitting, never giving up, no matter how well someone else runs," he said. "We're going to be right there. I feel more comfortable in this points battle than any I've been in. We really have to race only one other guy."

Two races and two drivers. This should be interesting.

POWER RANKINGS
CurrentDriverPrevious
1Brad Keselowski2
Took over the Chase lead by 20 points thanks to a sixth place finish and Jimmie Johnson?s misfortune. This is now the Penske Racing driver?s championship to lose.
2Jimmie Johnson1
Saw his seven point lead evaporate thanks to a cut tire and trip into the wall on Sunday. Johnson now must hope a similar such fate happens to Keselowski next week at Homestead to have any shot at a sixth title.
3Kyle Busch4
Nearly ran the table in Phoenix by leading all practices and taking the pole had he been able to win the race. But a poor decision on lane choice for a late restart cost Busch a shot at Victory Lane.
4Kasey Kahne5
Ending the year on a positive note but wasn?t able to match his Phoenix victory of last November. Still a solid day with a fourth place performance.
5Clint Bowyer3
Was the victim of Jeff Gordon?s revenge that completely eliminated Bowyer from championship contention. He wasn?t an angel in the turn of events but Bowyer definitely got the worst of the situation.
6Denny Hamlin8
Hamlin?s second place finish in Phoenix a welcome rebound from two weeks of disappointment for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. He?ll be a factor for a win next Sunday in Homestead.
7Kevin Harvick12
Snapped a 44-race winless drought with Sunday?s win ironically coming on the weekend when reports of his evacuation from Richard Childress Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 broke out.
8Greg Biffle6
A decent day for ?The Biff? in Phoenix, who was able to dodge all the last lap craziness to bring home his Roush Fenway Racing Ford seventh.
9Joey Logano13
Minding his own business until getting swept up in the Gordon-Bowyer fight. Logano was on his way to a nice effort to follow up his ninth Nationwide Series win on Saturday.
10Ryan Newman14
Rough way to earn a fifth place finish as Newman was one of the unfortunate souls to get caught in the last lap crash on the main straightaway.
11Tony Stewart9
Not a god day at all for Smoke who spun late after making contact racing for position. A 19th place finish for Stewart.
12Matt Kenseth11
Will make the final Sprint Cup start of his career for Roush Fenway Racing next week at Homestead on the heels of a 14th place effort in Phoenix.
13Martin Truex Jr.10
His race was over nearly before it started with a blown engine. After a stellar regular season Truex Jr. has suffered mightily throughout the Chase.
14Carl Edwards15
An 11th place finish for Edwards as he brings to a close one of the most disappointing seasons in his career.
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