Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Carl Edwards: Edwards chased Kasey Kahne to the finish at Phoenix, but had to settle for the runner-up spot in the Kobalt Tools 500. Edwards remained on top in the Sprint Cup point standings and will take a three-point lead over Tony Stewart to Homestead.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”224″][/media-credit]“I would say the Sprint Cup championship is mine too lose,” Edwards said. “That would be inaccurate. It’s not mine to lose; it’s Jimmie Johnson’s. Jimmie had a great run; unfortunately, it’s slowed to a ‘walk.’
“I could win the Cup without a single victory in the Chase. If that happens, I expect NASCAR to react quickly, and hire meth-head Jeremy Mayfield as a consultant, his job being to ‘tweak’ the Chase points system.”
2. Tony Stewart: Stewart led 160 of 312 laps at Phoenix, but had to pit for fuel with 18 laps to go. He worked his way back to the front and finished third, right behind points leader Carl Edwards in second, to stay three points behind. The Sprint Cup championship will be decided next Sunday at Homestead.
“You’ve got me,” Stewart said, “with four wins in the Chase, against Edwards, with not a single win in the Chase. How am I not in the lead, and how am I three points down? How has Edwards pulled that off. I’m mystified. In any case, the Chase For The Cup comes down to ‘Smoke’ versus ‘Smoke And Mirrors.’
3. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished an uninspired 19th at Phoenix, and remained third in the point standings, 51 behind Carl Edwards.
“I’m out of the running for the Cup,” Harvick said. “That’s no surprise, because I’ve been driving like it for nine races.
“But with nothing to race for, I can finally take care of some unfinished business. That would be wrecking Kyle Busch and finally gaining vengeance for the incident in Darlington. Alas, no one cares anymore, especially Busch.”
4. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson came home 14th at Phoenix and improved one spot to fifth in the point standings. He now trails Carl Edwards by 68.
“I’m finally giving up the crown,” Johnson said. “So, expect a ‘reign-out’ at Homestead. To Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards, I say ‘May the best man win.’ But since I’ve been eliminated from Cup contention, that won’t happen. So, ‘May the next best man win.’”
5. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished 18th in the Kobalt Tools 500, his third straight finish outside the top 17. He improved one spot to fourth in the point standings and is now 68 out of first.
“Expect me to be a fixture in the Chase for years to come,” Keselowski said. “I like what we’re doing at Penske Racing. Despite my young age of 27, I feel like my presence alone has raised the maturity level immensely at Penske. Between Busch and I, it seems he’s the ‘baby’ of the duo.”
6. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth started on the pole at Phoenix and was dominant early before Brian Vickers wrecked him on lap 177. Kenseth finished 34th and is now sixth in the point standings, 70 out of first.
“Somebody give Vickers at mirror,” Kenseth said, “because he better ‘watch himself’ at Homestead.”
7. Kurt Busch: Busch led 57 laps at Phoenix but ran into trouble on lap 279 when came down pit road for a splash of fuel but was tagged for speeding. Forced to serve a pass-through penalty, Busch’s chances at the win were done, and he eventually finished 22nd, one lap down.
“I was ‘officially’ eliminated from Cup contention twice in one race,” Busch said. “Of course, there’s no one to blame but myself, so I’ll blame everyone but myself.”
8. Kasey Kahne: Kahne captured his first win since 2009, snapping an 81-race winless streak by outrunning Carl Edwards to the line at Phoenix.
“I’ll hate to see Red Bull out of NASCAR,” Kahne said. “That’s a sentiment shared by everyone in the garage, except for Matt Kenseth. Brian Vickers will soon drive off into the sunset. And when I say ‘into’ the sunset, I mean it literally, because Vickers will probably hit it.”
9. Jeff Gordon: Snake bitten first by handling problems, then brake issues, Gordon finished 32nd at Phoenix and was officially eliminated from Sprint Cup title contention. He is now 11th in the point standings, 112 out of first.
“It’s been a season I’d like to forget,” Gordon said. “Unfortunately, at my age, and even as a four-time champion, now the ‘seasons to forget’ far outnumber the ‘season’s to remember.’”
10. Kyle Busch: Busch started from the back at Phoenix after an engine change, but his slide continued when his engine blew on lap 188. Busch finished 36th and is 12th in the point standings, 135 out of first.
“We suspected we may have engine troubles,” Busch said. “And we were right. Like my sponsor, my engine gave up on me.
“I may be last in the standings, but I can also be ‘first,’ to admit that my anger issues need addressing. I think it wise that I should ‘seek counseling’ for my issues, before my issues force me to ‘seek counsel.’”