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The Backstretch Blog: Texas Two-Step

By Heather Williams, hwilliams@kwch.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 01:36:27 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 03 2013 12:52:19 PM CST

Jeff Gordon still has a chance to win the Sprint Cup, so do Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. But from the very beginning of the Chase it has been clear, this is probably going to boil down to a two horse race between Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.


"Look at the two drivers that are tied for the points championship - unless they hand one of the other guys a bone then there is no chance of anyone catching them," said Clint Bowyer, who is currently sixth in the standing. "Those two teams have elevated themselves to championship level teams and that is your race for the championship."


Having two teams running so well and basicly with each other stride for stride is not only exciting for fans, but it also pushes the two drives involved.


"I think the championship battle brings the very best out of people, and (Matt) and his people are bringing their best each and every weekend," said Johnson. "I feel in order to win the championship you have to be up front racing for the win. I expect to see the No. 20 there each and every week."


Even though the points are tied heading into this weekend's race at Texas, Kenseth holds the tie breaker at this point, because he has more wins. That makes winning even more important over the final three races.


"Obviously I'm happy to be the leader even though it's just really a tie and we have the tie breaker," said Kenseth. "I'd be more happy if we were the leader and it was three-and-a-half weeks from now, so we still have three races to go. Hopefully we can go out here and run away -- I know we're capable of running up front and get a good result on Sunday and keep rolling."


The thing about this chase that makes it even more exciting is Kenseth and Johnson are so much alike. Both are former champions (though Johnson has five to Kenseth's one and Matt's one title was pre-chase) and they both are fierce competitors who let their race cars do most of the talking.


"I think we do have a lot of similarities in the way we race," said Johnson. Being around him, off the track as well and with his family, we have a lot in common. I wouldn't say we are identical. But we do have something very deep down that is very common between the both of us the way we approach things a little more laid back."


Adds Kenseth, "They always say, if you want to be the man, you have to beat the man and he's always definitely been the man. Really just trying to concentrate on that and trying to figure out how to make our car fast enough to go out and be able to compete with not only him, but the rest of the field each and every week.  It's a competitive group."

This week in Texas, the group that can compete will be large, with 13 former winners in the field including Johnson and Kenseth.  Pole sitter Carl Edwards leads the way with three wins in the Lone Star state. Johnson, Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton and Denny Hamlin have two apiece. Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Elliott Salder, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon are the other former winners in the field this weekend.

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