This Week in Auto Racing November 4 - 6

The eighth race in the Chase for the Sprint header weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR

Sprint Cup Series

AAA Texas 500 - Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, TX

With seven races down and three to go in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup, it's looking like it will be a two-man battle for the championship in NASCAR's premier series.

Tony Stewart's win coupled with a ninth-place finish for Carl Edwards last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway allowed Stewart to trim Edwards' points lead to just eight.

Stewart has hyped up the title fight by telling Edwards "he better be worried" and "he is not going to have an easy three weeks."

Edwards response? "We'll see what happens at Texas."

It's no holds barred between the two, and Texas Motor Speedway, the site of the next Chase race this Sunday, is loving every minute of it.

Texas has been an up and down track for Edwards. Even though Edwards leads all drivers with three wins at this track, his average finish here is 16.5.

"You never know how you're going to run, but I feel good going there," Edwards said. "I love that place. I love everything about Texas, from [track president] Eddie Gossage, down to the fans, the way they make everything such a big event."

Edwards finished 39th in the 2009 fall race at Texas. He then placed 19th and 33rd in the two races at this track last year before improving his performance here with a third-place run in April.

Stewart's average finish at Texas is 13.2. He won the fall race here in 2006.

After winning the first two Chase races -- Chicagoland and New Hampshire -- Stewart lost his momentum in the playoffs by finishing 25th at Dover and then 15th at Kansas. He had dropped to seventh in the point standings. But Stewart has bounced back nicely since then, scoring three straight top-10 finishes, including the win at Martinsville.

"I don't know anybody that doesn't enjoy being in the middle of it with three weeks to go; it's a great feeling," Stewart said. "To be in a position that we're in right now, sitting here knowing that we're right in the middle of this thing with three weeks to go, it is obviously a great feeling and great position to be in. We just got to go out and keep doing what we're doing here."

Edwards has finished no worse than 11th in this year's Chase so far.

"I feel like we made it through the first seven races of the Chase better than we expected," he said. "Now we just go to these last three races and go for broke."

None of the 12 drivers in the Chase field have been mathematically eliminated from the championship yet. Heading into Texas, 89 points separate Edwards from 12th-place Ryan Newman.

Kevin Harvick is currently 21 points out of the lead, while Brad Keselowski trails by 27 markers.

Matt Kenseth is hoping to rebound in the Chase after a disappointing finish at Martinsville. Kenseth entered the Martinsville race 14 points behind Edwards, but after his 31st-place run there, he has fallen 36 points in back of his Roush Fenway Racing teammate.

Kenseth has performed well at Texas lately. He finished second here one year ago and then followed up with a win in this year's spring race.

"I probably have more confidence going into Texas because, historically, it's been one of our best tracks," he said. "Past success doesn't guarantee anything for future success, but we certainly perform well there."

Jimmie Johnson is now 43 points behind Edwards, as his hopes of a record- extending sixth straight series championship are fading away.

"The window is getting smaller and smaller as the weeks go by, so I'm going out for maximum points, trying to win races and get trophies," Johnson said. "It's out of my control where things are at this point. It's up to other guys to have major mistakes in these next three events to let us back in."

Forty-eight teams are on the preliminary entry list for the AAA Texas 500.

Nationwide Series

O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge - Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, TX

After a two-week break, the Nationwide Series begins its three-race sprint to the finish, beginning with this weekend's 300-mile event at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. presently holds a 15-point lead over second-place Elliott Sadler. Third-place Aric Almirola is a distant 87 points behind.

When the series last competed on October 14 at Charlotte, Sadler's fourth- place run allowed him to shave five points off of Stenhouse's lead. Stenhouse finished ninth.

"The biggest things that I think we, as a race team, worry about are the things you can't really control on the weekend," Stenhouse Jr. said. "Now that we have the lead, we've prided ourselves the whole time on not making mistakes."

Stenhouse has finished eighth and 11th in the last two races at Texas. Sadler placed fifth here earlier this year. It was the first time Sadler had competed in a Nationwide event at this track since November 2007.

"We had a great race there back in the spring with a top-five finish," Sadler said. "With only three races left to go for the Nationwide Series championship, it's now or never for us. We feel good about our team, about our car and about our plan to battle for this championship. Texas is a track that I've had success at in the past, including a win in the Cup Series back in 2004."

Seven Sprint Cup Series regulars are competing in this race, including David Ragan, who is making his first Nationwide start since November 2009 at Phoenix. Ragan is scheduled to drive the No.08 Ford for Randy Hill Racing.

Now that her IndyCar obligations have concluded, Danica Patrick will resume her Nationwide schedule at Texas. Patrick will also compete at Phoenix next week and the season-finale at Homestead later this month. She is running a full-time schedule in Nationwide and a partial one in Sprint Cup next year.

Kenny Wallace is expected to make series history at Texas with his record 520th career start. Wallace will surpass Jason Keller for most starts in NASCAR's second-tier circuit.

"When I was a little kid growing up in Arnold, Missouri, if you would have told me that I would be able to race in NASCAR my whole life, I would have considered that wishful thinking and a dream; therefore, my 520th NASCAR Nationwide start will be a dream come true," Wallace said.

It will be a bittersweet weekend for Wallace though. His father, Russ Wallace, passed away last weekend at the age of 77.

Rusty Wallace Racing drivers Steve Wallace and Michael Annett, as well as Kenny and Mike Wallace will honor Russ by displaying his name above their driver and passenger side doors.

Forty-eight teams are on the preliminary entry list for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.

Camping World Truck Series

WinStar World Casino 350k - Texas Motor Speedway - Fort Worth, TX

Fifteen points, four drivers and two races to go.

That's the point separation between leader Austin Dillon and fourth-place Johnny Sauter in the Camping World Truck Series driver's standings heading into Friday night's race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The last two races will be contested on 1.5-mile tracks. After Texas, the series takes a week off and then wraps up the season on November 18 at Homestead.

Last Saturday, Dillon finished third at Martinsville and padded his points lead to 11 over James Buescher, who placed tenth.

"I'm looking forward to the next two races," Dillon said. "Martinsville was a great race for us, and I think it gives us momentum for the end of the season. I was a little bit worried heading into the Martinsville race, because practice did not go the way we planned, but the [truck] was great during the race, and we were able to finish well and extend the points lead."

Dillon finished third in his first race at Texas in June 2010 but has placed 25th and 26th in his last two trips here.

Buescher, who hails from nearby Plano, TX, has yet to win a race in the series. He would love nothing better than to pick up his first victory at his home track. Buescher has scored three straight top-10 finishes here.

"I'm looking forward to Texas," Buescher said. "We were really fast there earlier this year, and it would be pretty cool to get my first win at my home track."

Ron Hornaday Jr. has been on a late-season surge towards a record-extending fifth series championship. Hornaday has finished either first or second in the last four races, as he now trails Dillon by 15 points. His first win of the season came in the spring race at Texas.

"Winning the race at Texas Motor Speedway back in June was a really great momentum boost for our team," Hornaday said. "That was the first win of the season and one that we really needed to get moving in the right direction. This championship battle is anybody's to win. I think the championship race is going to go into Homestead, and it's going to be a great shootout."

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are those Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in this race. Busch has won the last two fall events at Texas. Harvick will drive his No.2 Chevrolet, as Kevin Harvick Inc. will have an opportunity to clinch the owner's championship this weekend.

"It's been a few years since I've raced in the Truck Series at Texas, but it's still a track that I like to race on," Harvick said. "Of course, for most drivers the main goal is to go out there and win, but I'm really focused on the Truck Series owner's championship standings. I'm hoping to secure a strong run that helps KHI clinch the championship."

Thirty-seven teams are on the preliminary entry list for the WinStar World Casino 350k.