Now it’s getting personal.
Up until Thursday, the battle between NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship contenders Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart had been cordial and even merry at times.
But at a joint media event in South Beach on Thursday to kick off Ford Championship weekend at Homstead-Miami Speedway, the sparks were definitely flying.
It all started when Stewart-known for his sharp retorts as he is for his racing ability-said that even if there had been a little camaraderie between the pair up until this weekend it was gone now that the finale is only three days away.
“I’d wreck my mom to win a championship,” Stewart said. “I respect Edwards as a driver, but this isn’t about friendship this weekend.”
Stewart said his No. 14 team is geared up for a tough fight and isn’t planning on leaving anything in the garage when the race starts on Sunday.
“This is war. This is a battle.” he said. “This is for a national championship. It’s no-holds-barred this weekend. I didn’t come this car to be one step away from it and let it slip away, we’re going to go for it.”
Stewart then mocked Edwards’ media-friendly personality.
“He was doing a pretty good acting job up there today,” Stewart said. “(But) he’s a lot more nervous than he lets on.”
The two-time Sprint Cup champion also let it be known that Edwards has yet to win a Sprint Cup trophy and that just talking about winning doesn’t get it done.
“They say there’s talkers and doers,” said Stewart. “I’ve done this (won a Cup championship) twice.”
That was all it took for Edwards to jump in with a few licks of his own.
“Did you say something?” he said. “(Tony) has got the talking part figured out.”
Stewart answered: “Yeah, you can come visit my trophy in the room at Vegas (at the season ending championship awards dinner) when you come out there.”
Edwards proceeded to lambaste Stewart, who in spite of winning four races out of nine in the 10 race Chase, has yet to overcome Edwards’ points lead.
“The problem is I don’t think you have led the points yet this year have you? … I have listened to you a lot and you talk a lot about your past successes,” he said. “That is very respectable and truly, all joking aside, that will make it more fun if we are able to beat you.”
In the end, Edwards admitted that all the trash talking in the world wasn’t going to win the championship and that his No.99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team was ready to do whatever it takes to win on Sunday.
“I know and (Tony) knows that it doesn’t matter what we say,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we are over there fist fighting in the corner before this things starts.
“We are race-car drivers and I think we are both good enough to go out there and do our jobs whether we love each other or hate each other.”