Carl Edwards expects the battle for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title to go down to the final lap at Homestead next week.
The Roush Fenway driver currently leads the Chase by a slim three points over Tony Stewart, who has won four out of eight play-off races, including back-to-back wins in the last two events.
Edwards has led the standings more often than any other driver this year and believes his consistency throughout the season is proof that he can finally clinch his first Cup title, despite his rival's recent surge during the Chase.
The pair have actually scored the same amount of points during the last eight weeks but Edwards' victory early in the season at Las Vegas gave him the three bonus points that keep him at the top of the standings, despite not winning again since then. Edwards does not believe he needs to change his approach entering the last two title-deciding events.
"We have led the points, I have said this 100 times, we have led for 20-something weeks and we have done it the way we know how to do it and the way we can," said Edwards. "We might have to step it up just a little bit these next two races but I don't feel we are in a position where we have to change anything. I think we have to just go race as hard as we can."
He added: "For us it is pretty neat to be holding off a two-time champion having the best Chase he has ever had. It is neat to be battling with him. If we can continue and hold him off and win this thing...if it truly comes down to the end like I believe it will – I believe it will come down to the last lap at Homestead – that is going to feel good that it is Tony."
Edwards won both the last two races of the season last year at Phoenix and Homestead when already out of contention for the title, and also claimed victory in the season finale two years ago on the way to the runner-up spot in the championship.
His past and recent success at the last venue of the season makes him confident that he can beat Stewart, even if he ends up dropping to second in the standings following this weekend's race at Phoenix.
"If I were 10 points behind [after Phoenix] then Tony's run at Texas would make me think he will probably run pretty well at Homestead but I still feel we can lead the most laps, win the race and it would only take a little trouble or a little lack of speed on their part for us to beat them still," Edwards said. "I have seen a lot of points battles and been part of a few and seen a lot of things happen in the sport.
"I am telling you, there is something to me that I feel this thing is not going to be over until the last lap. I just have a feeling about this one for some reason."
He added: "I am not nervous. I maybe should be but I am not. I am pretty excited about the opportunity I have here. I have been doing this long enough now. Last year is a good example. I sat back and thought about what I would not give to be going into these last two races with a shot at winning the thing.
"To be able to go out there and perform and do what we do – that is the neatest part. The last restart at Homestead, neck and neck, tied and if it's best man wins, then the hair might be standing up on my neck. Right now I am looking at this like this is pretty neat to be a part of and it is fun."
Both Stewart and Edwards looked strong in race-trim during Friday's practice sessions at Phoenix, with Saturday's qualifying looking key as overtaking is expected to be at a premium during Sunday's race on the new surface of the one-mile venue.