Edwards and Stewart ready for NASCAR’s prize fight

The fighting talk from NASCAR title challengers Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards has ventured close to boxing territory and on Sunday, in the season-ending championship race at Homestead Speedway, there really are only two contenders staring each other down.

By (Reuters)

Published: Sat 19 Nov 2011, 2:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:21 AM

Carl Edwards goes into the race with just a three point lead over Tony Stewart, meaning that a victory for either driver would be a knockout blow, guaranteeing them the championship.

With Jimmie Johnson’s remarkable five year streak of wins having come to an end, the chance of a walk-off winner on Sunday is a dream finale for the sport.

NASCAR’s play-off system was introduced in 2004 with the intention of creating more close-finishes to the season and none have been closer than this year’s.

Edwards needs only to finish ahead of Stewart to clinch his first series championship while Stewart, who owns the tie break, needs only to tie Edwards to clinch what would be his third.

The 40-year-old Stewart’s victories in 2002 and 2005 haven’t, however, taken away any of his hunger for glory.

“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship, I’ll wreck your mom to win a championship,” Stewart told Edwards at a press conference on Thursday.

There was a smile on Stewart’s face as he said those words but that hide the clear desire he has to bring a title to his own team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

“I respect him (Edwards) as a driver, but this isn’t about friendships this weekend. This is a war. This is a battle. This is for a national championship,” he added.

“It’s no holds barred this weekend. I didn’t come this far to be one step away from it and let it slip away, so we’re going to go for it,” he added.

Edwards, eight years younger than his rival, is clearly enjoying the pressure and the possibility joining the sport’s list of champions.

“Don’t think for a second that either one of us are going to let anything slide. We’re going to go out here, we’re going to race hard, and we’re going for this championship,” he said.

“I don’t think you could find two harder racers than us up here and we both know that about each other.”

Edwards has been impressively consistent this year with 18 top five finishes and 25 top 10s.

Stewart and Edwards have both won twice at Homestead but Edwards comes into the race with better form while Stewart has four wins to his rivals’ one this season and the added experience.

While a champion is guaranteed, the odds are that neither racer will emerge as the winner of Sunday’s race as there have been 18 different winners this season no-one has ever won Homestead and the championship in the same year.

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