Chase watch: Kahne crashes party but Edwards, Stewart still locked in battle

Jay Hart
Yahoo! SportsNovember 14, 2011

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kasey Kahne crashed the party at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, but as far as the Chase goes, there was no blood lost between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart.

Here is how the Chase field fared in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500:

1. Carl Edwards – finished second: He's yet to win in the Chase, but he posted his second straight runner-up finish and has yet to post a finish worse than 11th. That's consistency, and consistency tends to win. (-)

2. Tony Stewart – finished third: Led the most laps and looked like he might win his third race in a row. A late air-pressure adjustment cost him speed. Still, by picking up the bonus for leading the most laps he maintained a slim three-point deficit. (-3 points)

3. Kevin Harvick – finished 19th: Had to pit out of sequence, which put him a lap down at one point. And now it's offical: Harvick and everyone below him are eliminated from title contention. (-51 points)

4. Brad Keselowski – finished 18th: The pace kept by Edwards and Stewart has put a little tarnish on Keselowski's Chase. Chalk this up to a learning experience – one he'll draw from next year. (-65 points)

5. Jimmie Johnson – finished 14th: "Five-Time" has never finished outside the top five in the standings in his career. That's the consolation prize now. He was wholly mediocre at Phoenix but that was good enough to slip by Matt Kenseth. Johnson now has Keselowski in his sights. (-68 points)

6. Matt Kenseth – finished 34th: For the second week in a row, Kenseth got Brian Vickers-ed. Before getting wrecked, Kenseth had a top-five car. Keep an eye on these two (Kenseth and Vickers) next week at Homestead-Miami. (-70 points)

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – finished 24th: Started 22nd, finished 24th. That pretty much sums up Junior's day. There's one race left to get a win, but don't hold your breath Junior Nation. He's not very good at Homestead. (-102 points)

8. Ryan Newman – finished fifth: Best finish of the Chase for Newman, who's gone from the cellar to all but guaranteeing himself a seat at the champion's banquet. (-107 points)

9. Kurt Busch – finished 22nd: Held the lead late, came down pit road for a final splash of gas, then got dinged for speeding on pit road. That'll boost team moral. (-107 points)

10. Denny Hamlin – finished 12th: Give Hamlin credit for not giving up. He very easily could have quit after starting the Chase with 31st- and 29th-place finishes. (-110 points)

11. Jeff Gordon – finished sixth: Biggest disappointment of the Chase, by far. Break issues cost him at Phoenix but he wasn't much of a factor before that, which is surprising considering he won there back in February. (-112 points)

12. Kyle Busch – finished 36th: Started at the back because of an engine change, charged all the way up to third and then … his engine blew. Some would call that karma. (-135 points)

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