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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Stewart takes Texas, trims Edwards' point lead to three



Fort Worth, TX (Sports Network) - Tony Stewart has hyped up the championship battle between he and Carl Edwards even more after winning Sunday's AAA Texas 500 in dominating fashion at Texas Motor Speedway.

After winning one week ago at Martinsville, Stewart said Edwards "better be worried" and "he is not going to have an easy three weeks." That's true so far.

Stewart, the two-time Sprint Cup Series champion, led 173 of 334 laps but had to come from in the closing laps to grab the win. Jeff Burton held the lead late in the race when he opted not to pit during the final round of stops, but Burton ran out of fuel with five laps to go, allowing Stewart to take the top spot for good.

Edwards finished one second behind Stewart in the runner-up spot.

With the win, Stewart cut Edwards' lead to only three points. Just two races remain -- Phoenix (next Sunday) and Homestead, FL (November 20).

"We're set on it, and this is the way it's going to be," said Stewart, who has won four of the first eight Chase races. "Just do not count us out of this thing, I can tell you that. We did everything we could do today."

Stewart claimed his 43rd career Sprint Cup win, including his second at Texas. He won at this 1.5-mile track five years ago.

After the fourth caution came on lap 262 for Joey Logano's blown engine, Stewart and crew chief Darian Grubb opted for a two-tire pit stop. Edwards also took two tires during that stop and came out of pits ahead of Stewart to take the lead.

The fifth and final caution came shortly after on lap 270 for debris on the track. Following the last restart, Stewart quickly moved around Edwards to reclaim the top position.

Stewart made his final pit stop with 33 laps remaining.

"Darian did an awesome job," Stewart said. "It's hard to know what to do with the car, and he's made the right calls the whole Chase...The guys gave me an awesome pit stop at the end, and if we didn't have that pit stop, we wouldn't be here."

After winning the first two Chase races -- Chicagoland and New Hampshire -- Stewart lost his momentum in the playoffs by finishing 25th at Dover and then 15th at Kansas. He had dropped to seventh in the point standings. But Stewart has bounced back nicely since then, scoring four straight top-10 finishes, including victories at Martinsville and Texas.

"That's four out of eight, so let's go for two more," Grubb said.

Edwards has finished no worse than 11th in this year's Chase so far.

"[Stewart] did a great job today," Edwards said. "I'm proud of my guys for hanging on and for still having the points lead. We're going into the final two races, and although we would have loved to win today, to be three points ahead and to have the third and fourth-place guys [in points] farther behind, it looks like it's truly going to come down between Tony and me, and that's going to be a lot of fun."

Kasey Kahne finished third, while Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, the pole sitter, rounded out the top-five.

Jeff Gordon took the sixth spot, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and A.J. Allmendinger.

Kevin Harvick fell 33 points behind Edwards after finishing 13th. Kenseth is now 38 points behind his teammate.

"Unless something happens to the 99 [Edwards] and the 14 [Stewart], it's pretty much a two-man race," Kenseth said.

Brad Keselowski's 24th-place run put him 49 points behind. Jimmie Johnson, the five-time defending series champion, finished 14th and dropped 55 points out of the lead.

Suspended driver Kyle Busch attended the 500-mile race at Texas, sitting atop his team's pit box and watching Michael McDowell drive his No.18 car to a 33rd-place finish. Busch was parked for this event as well as Saturday's Nationwide race for deliberately wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr. in Friday night's Camping World Truck Series event at this track.

Busch fell from seventh to 11th in the point standings (-100), as he became one of three drivers to be mathematically eliminated from title contention. Denny Hamlin (-99) and Ryan Newman (-103) have also been ousted from the championship bout.

11/06 20:40:09 ET

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