NASCAR Sprint Cup Finale Is A "Game 7" For Edwards, Stewart
Offseason tweaks to NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship seem to have done "exactly what it wanted with a two-driver title fight heading into Sunday’s season finale,” according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Carl Edwards enters Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a three-point lead over Tony Stewart, and "both drivers have been at the top of their game the last month.” The competition has “brought out the best in NASCAR, which heads into its championship weekend with some healthy momentum and exciting story lines that have boosted interest” (AP, 11/14). In Grand Rapids, Steve Kaminski wrote NASCAR “has gotten its wish” as the championship “is coming down to the final race, and chances are we still won’t know who is going to win it all with a lap to go.” It is a scenario that “has been NASCAR’s goal all along, dating to when it first introduced the Chase” in ’04. Fans have “a Game 7, winner-take-all race in which the points leader is in no position to play it safe.” The championship race “pits two of the sport’s great personalities, and right now, they are the best drivers on the track” (MLIVE.com, 11/17). USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan writes Edwards and Stewart “are the equivalent of the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers in a winner-take-all situation” (USA TODAY, 11/18). Stewart said, “This is as exciting as it gets -- to have two guys who are down to three points (apart) with one race to go. It’s the perfect storm, so to speak” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/18).
EVERYBODY LOVES COUSIN CARL: In Miami, Gary Long writes many NASCAR fans "concur that it’s high time for a fresh face at the top,” and “none is fresher” than Edwards. Long: “He’s affable. He’s charming. He’s clever. He has an infectious grin big on teeth. Oh, and he’s ripped, with a sculpted upper body.” The camera “loves him, and he can mix conversationally with Regis and Kelly.” Ford Racing Communications Dir Kevin Kennedy said, “He’s the face of our NASCAR program not only on track but in our marketing.” He added, “We have plans for Carl to be involved in future product launches. Female fans like him. Male fans like him. Kids like him. He fits what Ford is looking for in a spokesman” (MIAMI HERALD, 11/18).