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Stewart looking to rattle Edwards

By Jenna Fryer
Associated Press / November 18, 2011

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MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - It’s very difficult to win a war of words with Tony Stewart, who uses quick wit and a sharp tongue to defeat anyone bold enough to go toe-to-toe with him.

It’s clearly been his strategy the last month with Carl Edwards, the Sprint Cup Series points leader and lone driver standing in Stewart’s way of a third NASCAR championship. Whether it works won’t be determined until Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Edwards will take a three-point lead over Stewart into the season finale.

Edwards did his best to hang with Stewart yesterday in their final joint news conference before the race. As the two heaped compliment after compliment on each other, they were finally asked if they’d be so polite on the last lap with the championship on the line.

“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship,’’ Stewart said. “I respect him 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.’’

Edwards was unfazed and gamely tried to go after Stewart.

“Did you say something’’ he asked.

“Yeah, you can come visit my trophy in the room at [Las] Vegas,’’ Stewart replied.

“He’s got the talking part figured out. Problem is, you haven’t led the points yet this year, have you?’’ said Edwards, who has led the points for 21 weeks this year.

Edwards has been the most consistent driver this season, and that steadiness is all he needs to believe he’s the man to beat in this title race. But it’s Edwards’s first legitimate shot at a Sprint Cup title - his 2007 title in the second-tier Nationwide Series was a runaway - and he’s bound to get nervous at some point, right?

Edwards insists he won’t be rattled and has studied Stewart the past several weeks to get a better understanding of what he’s up against.

“There’s a couple reasons that I’m not nervous about this, and they’re personal reasons, they’re reasons that maybe someday I’ll talk to you more about in depth,’’ he said. “I’m truly just excited about this. And it is interesting to me. I’ve learned a lot about Tony, the way he competes by what he’s said. I’ve learned a lot.’’