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FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart Talk Hot Tracks

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIINovember 14, 2011

Kasey Kahne on pit road in Darlington
Kasey Kahne on pit road in Darlington

The weather wasn’t blistering for the Kobalt Tools 500 in Phoenix, Arizona. It wasn't even 80 degrees at daytime but the new track was hot with variables. When race 35 of 36 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season was over, seven more Chase for the Sprint Cup championship contenders were mathematically eliminated.

Now only two remain standing with adequate numbers.

Carl Edwards totes the same skinny three point advantage over Tony Stewart to the final race in Homestead, Fla., that he carried into Phoenix. NASCAR has a huge showdown.

The most coveted trophy in racing is up for grabs, but only two of four hands will clench it and take it home.

The new track at Phoenix International Raceway wasn’t the puzzling variable that most drivers and teams expected. Except for a few crashes during 312 laps the race was fast and decisive.

A controversial bump by Brian Vickers on Matt Kenseth appeared to be a retaliatory move promised by Vickers for Kenseth since their Martinsville mishap, but NASCAR did not park Vickers.

The finale race in Homestead could go down to the last lap before one champion prevails. A point tie between Edwards and Stewart is not possible as Stewart owns the tie-breaker edge with four wins during the Chase.

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Before the excitement ramps up at Homestead-Miami Speedway fans can take in comments from the top three in Phoenix—Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart.

Carl Edwards on pit roadin Daytona
Carl Edwards on pit roadin Daytona


Kasey Kahne (No. 4 Toyota) Finished first. (Started tenth)

Before the green flag:

“So far the track is great,” Kahne said. “I think it’s smooth -- it’s going to be different. It’s going to be kind of exciting to see how it races, which is pretty cool. I’m looking forward to that. There’s not a lot of grip in the tires, so the more we run, the more rubber on the track, the better the tires feel, but I still feel to move out of that lane it’s going to be really difficult.”

After the checkered flag:

“It was just different,” Kahne said. “We had to work on the car as the rubber came on the track, then it started changing more. It was a hard-fought day. The Red Bull team did a great job with the pit stops and the adjustments throughout the race to get us back to the front, just put us in position to have a shot.

“We've been able to stay focused. I love racing. If I'm in a racecar, I want to do the best that I can. Kenny Francis has given me some cars in the last few months that we've been able to perform with and run with Carl and Tony, who have been probably the two best.”

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford) Finished second. (Started 9th)

Before the green flag:

“Phoenix is really a big unknown,” Edwards said. “You’re going to have to pay attention to tire wear. The setup is going to be very important. The track is very smooth and easy to drive. I don’t know that you’ll be able to go there and manhandle the car and hustle it around there like you could at the old Phoenix, at least not this first time.”

After the checkered flag:

“We have never gone into Homestead with the points lead,” Edwards said. “You know they give a boat away if you win that thing. I saw that boat and I would like to go down there and win it. That would be fun to put a cap on this season. That is what our mission is.

“That 14 crew and Tony do so well. They have really stepped it up. If we can win this thing beating him—that would be really cool.”

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet) Finished third. (Started 8th)

Before the green flag:

“The exit of turn two is a lot more open,” Stewart said. “You definitely make the apex of the corner a lot sooner, and it leads you out off the corner – it’s a lot easier to get off of turn two than it used to be. With the dogleg, it’s a little different. It’s somewhat like a roller-coaster with how it’s got an elevation change, going from the banking on the outside to down on the bottom and then back to the outside. After that, the rest of the track is pretty similar to the way it was. They did a really good job in laying the pavement down. It’s really smooth.”

After the checkered flag:

“Every point counts right now,” Stewart said. “That’s why we raced Carl (Edwards) so hard and Kasey (Kahne) so hard. We led enough laps to lead the most laps today so we’re going for every single point we can get right now.

“We have a third and two wins in the last three races so we’re going to keep the pressure on him (Carl Edwards) and we’ll make him sweat it out.”

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.

Unless otherwise noted, quotes and information were obtained from official release materials provided by NASCAR and team representatives.

Photo credit: Dwight Drum at Racetake.com

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