Chase contenders prepare for battle

Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for NASCAR
In preparation for the final race of the season, the Chase contenders in all three series hit the stage in South Beach, Miami, Fla., on Thursday to answer questions from the media.

In the NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series, Austin Dillon leads James Buescher by 20 points and James Buescher by 28. All three drivers are racing for their first NCWTS championship.

Dillon needs just a 16th or better finish to clench his first championship, returning the infamous No. 3 to Victory Lane. “Yeah, I think I'm in the best position I can be in. Our team has done a good job of preparing ourselves for the last few weeks. We have a new truck coming here. I'm looking forward to running it. I feel like I'm in the best position I can be in going into the last race,” Dillon said on being in control headed into the finale.

Nationwide Series leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler were next on stage to answer questions. Sadler is 41 points behind Stenhouse headed into the season finale. All Stenhouse has to do is finish 37th or better to win the title; with the inevitable start and park drivers, Stenhouse just needs a clean race to clench his first championship.

Stenhouse was asked if he worries about a colossal mistake and the thoughts of that creeping into his head. “I'm not really worried too much,” said Stenhouse. “We're just going to go out there and do our same thing we've been doing since Daytona at the start of the year. We're going to go out, get our car as fast in practice, qualify as well as we can, race as hard as we can.

“I think when you start trying to control things, I think that's when you get in trouble. So we're just going to go out and do our same deal as we always do. Homestead is one of my favorite racetracks.  I think we'll have a good shot to win this weekend. I think that would be a good way to cap off Ford Championship Weekend.”

A notable moment came from Elliott Sadler when he was asked if he would like to return to Cup racing someday. "I definitely want to be back in Cup, but I would only do it if I were in a competitive ride,” said Sadler. “I don't want to be a Cup driver just to say I'm a Cup driver."

Wrapping up the event were the headliners of the weekend, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, who are battling for the Sprint Cup Series championship. With just a three-point margin (13 under the old format), this makes it the third-closest margin going into the final race since the inception of the position-based points system in 1975.

There has been some smack talk between Edwards and Stewart – but they say it with a smile. Perhaps they are hiding their feelings or even better, saving it for the racetrack on Sunday.

Starting with a bit of a disadvantage, Stewart said, "We still control our destiny. We have absolutely nothing to lose, everything to gain. That makes us a dangerous combination."

Stewart was first to lay it on the line, stating that it is "no holds barred" this weekend. When asked if it comes down to the last lap, would he engage the bump-and-run move for the win, Stewart replied, “I'd wreck my mom to win a championship. I'll wreck your mom to win a championship.” 

Stewart continued, “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. 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.”

The light-hearted jabs continued between Stewart and Edwards. Stewart offered an invite to Edwards, saying, “You can come visit my trophy in the room at Vegas when you come out there.”

Edwards retorted, “He’s got the talking part figured out. Problem is, you haven't led the points yet this year, have you?”

The smack talk doesn’t mean a thing - it boils down to who out-races whom and that will be seen on Sunday.
Chase contenders prepare for battle Chase contenders prepare for battle Reviewed by Unknown on Thursday, November 17, 2011 Rating: 5