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Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson still feeling pressure at Phoenix

Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson still want to have good races at Phoenix on Sunday. Jerry Markland/Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- The Carl Edwards hauler sits 10th among the haulers in the Sprint Cup garage area, where they line up by organization based on owner points.

With Joe Gibbs Racing having the third-best spot in owner points (behind Hendrick and Penske) and Edwards last among the JGR drivers in points, it would appear as if this team is among those in the dogfight for a spot in the championship.

But thanks to Edwards' win Sunday at Texas, he doesn't have to worry about his finish this weekend. It's the same for Jimmie Johnson, who won at Martinsville.

When those two drivers talk about this weekend, they don't mind looking ahead. They are among the four drivers who will advance out of the semifinal round and be eligible for the championship Nov. 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Johnson can barely remember -- or doesn't choose to remember -- his 11th-place run at Phoenix in March. The Chase for the Sprint Cup makes its next stop Sunday in Phoenix.

"I know I ran OK, but even that is a little vague because I jumped right over my Phoenix prep and have been focused on Homestead," Johnson readily admitted earlier this week.

The same could be said for Edwards, who got out of his race-winning car at Texas and minutes later was talking to crew chief Dave Rogers about Homestead.

"Dave was actually trying to shut me up," Edwards said. "I started talking about Homestead already.

"Everything we do now will be geared to making sure that that Homestead weekend, we do it perfectly. I relish the opportunity to go focus for ... 14 days on trying to give a championship effort."

While Edwards celebrated, he has three teammates who enter Homestead without a guarantee they will advance. Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin are among the six drivers vying for the two remaining spots.

"Obviously, they're a little more relaxed, I would assume, this weekend in a way," Kenseth said. "But yet I'm sure they're also thinking ahead to Homestead. I'm sure they're thinking about this weekend to try to get their car running as good as they can to try to help two more cars get in there from the organization.

"I don't know that it's a lot different."

Edwards won't have to worry about anything this weekend. He won't have to play over what happened in March at Phoenix, where he probably could have won if he had raced a little rougher on the final lap and slammed doors a little harder with Kevin Harvick.

"It's one last week to just go have some fun, hopefully get another trophy and prepare for Homestead," Edwards said. "Texas was the biggest win of our season, and coming off of that we are really looking forward to going to Phoenix and just focus on getting another win.

"Phoenix is a special track for me. It's the first place I ever raced on pavement. [I've had a] lot of great runs there and a lot of wins [and a] very close race in the spring. That last lap was a blast."

Johnson will try to keep the pressure on his team only in hopes that they continue to feel a sense of having to perform under pressure. That's a noble goal, but no one can pretend to mimic the pressure of Homestead when the finish at Phoenix doesn't matter.

Still, Johnson hopes his team takes a businesslike approach even knowing they have a clean slate next week.

"We could all use practice with pressure because Homestead will bring a lot of pressure," Johnson said. "So pressure is good for us. We will be racing for every point we can race for, even if we are locked in. We will race our race and let everyone else race theirs."

The difference between Johnson and Edwards comes in the number of championships they have won. Johnson has six and goes for his seventh next week. Edwards has none, losing by the closest of margins in 2011 when Tony Stewart beat him on a tiebreaker by winning at Homestead, with Edwards finishing second.

"It's not just going there like we did in 2011 to race against one guy in championship form -- we're going to go there and race against three guys, one of which is a six-time champion [at the] top of his game," Edwards said. "I know whoever else is in there is going to be tough as nails.

"It's cool. If we're able to win that, stand ... with that championship trophy, we're going to have earned it. That's as good as it gets."