NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
             === Johnson, Kenseth resume title fight at Phoenix ===
 
 Avondale,  AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The battle between Jimmie Johnson and Matt
 Kenseth  in  the Chase  for the  Sprint Cup championship  resumes on Sunday at
 Phoenix International Raceway.
 
 With  just two races to go, Johnson's lead over Kenseth is seven points, which
 is  the same  point margin Johnson had  over Brad Keselowski one year ago when
 the Sprint Cup Series came to Phoenix for the penultimate race.
 
 Johnson  reclaimed the top spot in the Chase standings with a win last weekend
 at  Texas.  Kenseth and  Johnson had been  tied in points.  But Kenseth is now
 faced  with  his largest points deficit  in the Chase following a fourth-place
 run there.
 
 "I'm  still confident," Kenseth said. "I wish I was seven points ahead, but at
 the  end of the day,  it's in our hands. If you win both of the last two races
 and  the  math works  out to where  you still  win it, then  it's still in our
 hands.  I  have the greatest race  team out there,  and we're going to work as
 hard  as we can and  try to get the best finishes we can and see where it ends
 up."
 
 In  last year's Chase  race at Phoenix, Johnson's bid for his sixth Sprint Cup
 championship  took  a huge hit when  he blew a  tire and made contact with the
 wall, which led to a 32nd-place finish. He finished 36th the following week at
 Homestead, as Keselowski went on to claim his first title in the series.
 
 "We  need to race well at Phoenix," Johnson said. "We finished second there in
 the  spring, so  we feel strong about  our setup and the performance we should
 have there. But that doesn't guarantee us anything. We need to go out and have
 a good, strong, clean weekend."
 
 The  series most recently competed at Phoenix the first weekend in March. Carl
 Edwards  ended  a two-year, 70-race  winless streak  after he held off Johnson
 during a green-white-checkered finish.
 
 Johnson  holds the  record for most wins at Phoenix with four, including three
 in  a row from 2007-08. His most recent victory here came in the fall of 2009.
 Kenseth has one win at this track, which occurred 11 years ago.
 
 Kenseth  had  finished outside the top-10  in both races at Phoenix during the
 2011  and '12  seasons when  he  drove for  Roush Fenway  Racing. He  finished
 seventh  in this year's  spring race here, which came in just his second start
 with  Joe Gibbs  Racing. Kenseth leads the series with seven wins this season.
 His  most recent  victory came in September  at New Hampshire, which is a flat
 one-mile track very similar to Phoenix.
 
 "We had a really great car (at Phoenix) in the spring," Kenseth said. "We were
 really  good at  Loudon (N.H.) and were really good at Martinsville (two weeks
 ago),  so I'm looking forward to getting there. I hope we can run up front and
 have a car to win."
 
 The points leader entering the second-to-last race in the Chase at Phoenix won
 the  series  championship in  six straight seasons  (2004-09). But that hasn't
 been the case in the past three years. Denny Hamlin (2010), Edwards (2011) and
 Johnson (2012) took leads to Phoenix but lost the title.
 
 Homestead, a 1.5-mile racetrack, is scheduled for Nov. 17.
 
 "There's  still  a lot of racing  left, and the  two tracks that remain on the
 schedule are very challenging tracks," Johnson said.
 
 Kevin  Harvick is  currently third  in points  (-40), followed  by Kyle  Busch
 (-52), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-62), Jeff Gordon (-69) and Clint Bowyer (-69).
 
 Eighth  through  13th are:  Greg Biffle  (-73), Joey  Logano (-91), Kurt Busch
 (-96), Edwards (-116), Ryan Newman (-118) and Kasey Kahne (-133).
 
 Harvick  won at  Phoenix one year ago in  a race that featured one of the most
 memorable brawls in NASCAR history.
 
 Gordon  and  Bowyer, who  were both  in last year's  Chase field, made contact
 while  battling  for position in  the closing laps. Gordon  then had a tire go
 down,  which caused him to crash into the wall. He patiently waited for Bowyer
 to  come  around the track before  he intentionally wrecked him. Aric Almirola
 and Logano were involved in that accident as well.
 
 After Gordon drove back to the garage area and climbed out of his damaged car,
 several  crew members from Bowyer's team swooped on the four-time Cup champion
 and attacked him. Gordon's crew quickly intervened, resulting in a huge fight.
 
 Gordon  avoided  being suspended for  the season-finale at Homestead, which he
 won,  but  NASCAR did penalize  him with a  fine of $100,000  and a loss of 25
 points for his altercation with Bowyer.
 
 After  finishing 38th  at Texas, Gordon dropped from third to sixth in points,
 ending  his hopes  of winning the title.  Gordon suffered a flat tire and made
 contact  with the wall  in the early going. He was coming off his first win of
 the season at Martinsville.
 
 "Certainly  disappointing to have the race we just had in Texas," Gordon said.
 "But  the confidence  is still  high. The  car was  fantastic again  this past
 weekend.  It  felt like we  were going  to have a  great weekend. We take that
 confidence  in the cars that we've been bringing to the racetrack into Phoenix
 this  weekend,  on to  Homestead. Finish  out the  season the  best we can and
 hopefully move up in points again."
 
 Jeff  Burton, in his last season with Richard Childress Racing, is expected to
 make  his  1,000th career NASCAR  national series  start on Sunday at Phoenix.
 Burton  will  become just  the sixth  driver to  reach that milestone, joining
 Richard  Petty (1,185),  Mark Martin  (1,141), Joe  Nemechek (1,073),  Michael
 Waltrip (1,062) and Terry Labonte (1,013).
 
 Burton's  start breakdown  per series is 689 in Sprint Cup, 306 Nationwide and
 four  Camping  World Truck. His  first NASCAR national  series start came in a
 Nationwide race at Martinsville in 1988.
 
 Forty-three teams are on the entry list for the AdvoCare 500.
 
 Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, Nov. 10. Race: AdvoCare 500. Site:
 Phoenix International Raceway. Track: 1-mile oval. Start time: 3:00 p.m. ET.
 Laps: 312. Miles: 312. 2012 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: ESPN. Radio:
 Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
 
 11/07 23:17:29 ET

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