Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: AAA Texas 500

Best Quote:

“I told you guys that last week, nobody listens to me when I talk anymore. No, I mean we are set on it man, this is just the way it is going to be.” – Tony Stewart, race winner, on mind over matter

Tony Stewart proved he can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, in terms of his championship pursuit. After his words of warning last week that Edwards better be nervous the last three weeks, he backed up what could be considered a Namath-esque statement with a resounding win at Texas, doing so in dominating fashion. The two-time Sprint Cup champion has proven to be this year’s Jimmie Johnson, running just well enough to make the Chase and really turning up the heat come Chase time. With a scant three races to go, the pressure now is most definitely on current points leader Carl Edwards.

Crew Chief Quote Of The Week:

“Everybody, the whole crew just did an awesome job. This Office Depot/Mobil 1 team is a great group of guys there is no quit in them. That is four out of eight, let’s go for two more!” – Darian Grubb, winning crew chief

One has to give Darian Grubb a great deal of the credit for the No. 14 team’s success in the Chase, winning four out of eight of Chase races is no small feat. Grubb and Stewart have literally come from nowhere to be contenders in the tightest Chase in recent memory. If Grubb and his driver can keep firing on all eight cylinders as they have for much of the Chase, then Smoke could very well capture his third career championship and be the first driver without a win in the first 26 races to win a Chase.

Hard-Luck Quote of the Week:

“I lost a cylinder about 10 laps ago or so. The valve train, probably the same thing that we’ve been fighting most of the year. We just ran terrible all day and really thought we were going to be able to make up some ground on the thing. We just weren’t fast the whole time we were out there. Story of our year — we just have to find some speed in these cars. I don’t know. We used to be fast — we have to figure something out.” – Joey Logano, 37th

Poor Joey Logano. This was pegged to be the breakout year for the youngster, but instead, it’s more or less been a disaster of Hindenburg proportions. Engine failures and wrecked cars have constantly afflicted this team and stunted their progress all season long. With Logano’s disappointing run in NASCAR to date, one has to wonder how much longer Joe Gibbs will keep “Sliced Bread” in the team’s vaunted No. 20 car if performance doesn’t pick up noticeably in 2012.

Best of the Rest:

“I just told him ‘good job.’ He did a great job today. Those guys stepped it up and I’m proud of my guys for hanging on and for still having the points lead. At the end of the day, we’re going to the final two races. Although we would have loved to have won today in our Aflac Fusion, to be three points ahead and then to have the third and fourth-place guys farther behind, it looks like it’s truly gonna come down to Tony and I and that’s gonna be a lot of fun.” – Carl Edwards, runner-up

“Last week those guys wrecked in front of us. Went four laps down. The Red Bull team just keeps doing a good job. They’re working hard. It’s pretty impressive for a lot of them not knowing their future, not knowing what’s going on there, if there will be a two-car team or one-car team to keep putting the cars on the track like they are. I’m happy to come to the track and drive and work with Kenny Francis (crew chief) and the whole team.” – Kasey Kahne, third

“I’ll tell you, it’s incredible. It is kind of fun to watch those two battling. What these next two weeks are going to be like is going to be incredible. I don’t think anybody expected Tony to have a Chase like this, but, you know what, he’s a champion. He’s a great driver and when they get their setups in the cars to where they are right now, watch out for those cars. Carl’s not done yet. Those guys are solid and really strong. I’ll tell you, Phoenix is going to be interesting. To me Phoenix is the unknown with this new pavement and I think we are all going to be anxious to see not only how the race goes, but how this championship unfolds.” – Jeff Gordon, sixth, on the points battle between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards

“That was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt on a mile-and-a-half, especially one like this. It was fun. From the start we were just passing cars and making good adjustments. The track was tough because the sun would keep popping out and the track would change a lot, but, overall, I felt like it was definitely the best I’ve ever felt in a car around one of these places. We just got a bad break there on the two tires. We didn’t need that extra caution. I got back into sixth on the restart and we were good, and then the yellow came out and we went backwards after that. It was a good fight to get back to 10th, but, overall and more importantly, that’s something to build on.” – A.J. Allmendinger, 10th

“Yeah, it’s exciting. It’s a great opportunity to be in great equipment and had some fun today. Obviously, not at all the result we were looking for. Just long green flags runs. Didn’t get a long time to work on it. We had a few opportunities there to take the wave around and get a lap back. Just none of it really played out all that well for us today, but still thankful for the opportunity. It’s great to be in great equipment and hopefully we get an opportunity to do it again.” – Michael McDowell, 33rd (substitute driver for Kyle Busch)

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