Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are the top contenders in the NASCAR points chase going into Sunday's race at Texas.
There is a tale of the tape and even lockers complete with boxing gloves and robes for Cousin Carl vs. Smoke. There is also a huge banner featuring boxing promoter Don King with Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage.
"I didn't realize Tony volunteered to do a boxing match," Edwards said, smiling after entering the media center between the lockers. "I'm actually pretty excited about that part, but I didn't know that was gonna actually happen."
OK, so this "Texas Title Fight" _ as the race is being billed _ will be on the track on Sunday, and without the often volatile Kyle Busch.
Edwards got to Texas with a mere eight-point lead over Stewart, who last week won for the third time in seven Chase for the championship races and in Victory Lane said the points leader "better be worried. That's all I'm saying."
Stewart's feelings haven't changed since getting to Texas.
"It wasn't the adrenaline that was saying that. I've been racing 31 years and we've been a part of a lot of championship battles and I know what that feeling is when you feel that stuff is going right and that you've got that shot again," Stewart said. "He's making a mistake if he's counting us out and if he thinks it's just a mind game deal. ... I'm going to control my destiny and my car."
Busch, who was seventh in points, was barred from driving in the Sprint Cup and second-tier Nationwide races at Texas, a rare step taken by NASCAR after he deliberately wrecked championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr. during a caution in the Truck Series race on Friday. Michael McDowell will take over on Sunday in Joe Gibbs' No. 18 car.
Stewart, now a driver-owner, is the last person not named Jimmie Johnson to win the NASCAR championship. That was in 2005 when Stewart won his second title driving for Gibbs.
But no driver has won more Cup races at Texas than Edwards _ "We couldn't be coming to a better race track," he said. Edwards swept both 2008 races and won the autumn race there six years ago.
"We've escaped some of our bad tracks and bad days and still been able to fight and claw and come up with something good," Edwards said. "Now we're going to some tracks that we can run well, but I also understand how much can go wrong. I know things that can happen and it's not over until it's over."
Stewart qualified fifth for Sunday's race, while Edwards was seventh, meaning the top two will start nose-to-tail on Sunday.
Greg Biffle, David Ragan and Matt Kenseth, all Roush Fenway teammates with Edwards, took the top three spots in qualifying. Polesitter Biffle won the 2005 spring race at Texas.