The Backstretch Blog: Swing State

Everyone is talking about Florida and Ohio, yet when it comes to the Chase for the Championship, Texas may be the true swing state. Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski have been the clear front runners for the chase from the beginning. But like any true underdog, both Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne have been hanging around ready to pounce at the first sign of weakness from the leaders.

"Certainly one little slip up on either one of their parts then Kasey or I can be right there for the taking," said Bowyer. "We just have to see it through and see what happens.  I don't know if you've noticed, but it really doesn't matter if the focus is on me or not.  We have fun and go about our business the way we're going to go about our business and enjoy ourselves."

And the pressure is certainly off Kahne and Bowyer. Both have nothing to lose. Neither were given much of a chance to win a title this season and their development with new teams would be considered ahead of schedule.

On the other hand, everyone expected Johnson, and to a lesser extent Keselowski, to be here. And anything less than a title would be considered a missed opportunity.

"Right now I don't have to think about that," said Johnson. "There's the pressure to maintain, but I would much rather be leading the points than be anywhere else. "

When it comes to this weekends race, Kahne and Johnson are the only title contenders who have a Texas win, but that was back in 2006 and 2007 respectively.

“We got our first top-10 of the year at Texas, and it started a great streak for the team," said Kahne. "I always love coming to this track. It’s fast with a lot of room to move around and race. I think that really fits my style and gives us a good chance to win.”

Carl Edwards actually leads all active drivers with three Texas wins. Chasers Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle each have two wins. Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. each also have a win in the Lone Star state.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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