It seems the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has woken a sleeping giant. Tony Stewart picked up his third win in the Chase yesterday at Martinsville and jumped from fourth to second in the championship standings. He now trails leader Carl Edwards by a mere eight points.
“Carl Edwards had better be real worried,” said Stewart in Victory Lane yesterday. “That’s all I’ve got to say. He’s not going to have an easy three weeks.”
Edwards responded with, “He's wound up. He won the race. We'll see what happens (this week) at Texas.”
Here’s Stewart who was almost a non-contender entering the Chase and now he’s made a complete 180 degree turn -- a perfect example of how quickly a team can rebound in the new Chase points system when it find that competitive edge. The luck can turn the opposite way just as fast, but now Stewart can taste a third NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and he’s not going down without a fight.
You couldn’t have picked two better guys to be battling in this Chase. Stewart was the last champion before Jimmie Johnson began his title-winning spree and Edwards is hungry for his first. I think of Ali vs. Frazier, the Yankees and the Red Sox, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady.
This championship battle has a feel for the makings of a classic, epic slugfest. In fact, if you offered them a boxing ring to have at it after 500 miles of hard racing, I don’t think either one would turn the offer down. (Hey, that’s an idea!)
The AAA Texas 500 on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway is perfect timing for this rivalry to get heated up. Wild and crazy things have been known to occur at this place during the Chase. Last year we saw crew guys being shuffled, a fight on the backstretch and an official served with a hand gesture. The intensity of this year’s Chase is even higher, so I can only imagine what this race has in store for us.
LAAA-DIES AND GENTLE-MEN! IN THIS CORNER …