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Closing time at Texas

November 05, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Coca-Cola drivers show they are among the best with the race winding down

Four Coca-Cola Racing Family members were among the top-10 best closers at Texas, and the top 20 was scatter shot with seven red-and-white drivers.

Chaser Tony Stewart led the crew's nine drivers with a fifth-place finish. Teammate Danica Patrick got her best finish of the season.

Take a look at how the racers have fared in the final 10 percent of race laps this season.

Tony Stewart

Texas finish: Fifth

Chase standings: Eighth (up two positions, 80 points behind the leader)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Gained five spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Gained one spot

Stewart started 21st and needed 280 laps to get his car adjusted right to become a consistent top-10 runner. He reached a personal race-high fifth place when the checkered flag flew.

What he said: "What an awesome, awesome comeback. I know a fifth-place run isn't normally something to celebrate, but the setup we ran in the car was something that with 30 minutes to go in Happy Hour [Saturday] we tried. The car wasn't handling very well, and I just asked Steve Addington, I said, 'Listen, even if it's a big step backward, I want to try to make a big step forward.' We took almost until the last three minutes of practice, we got back on the racetrack and got six laps on this setup with this package."

Greg Biffle

Texas finish: 10th

Chase standings: 10th (down one position, 83 points behind the leader)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Lost three spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Lost 36 spots

Only a 10th-place finish would be a disappointment to Biffle. He won at Texas in the spring and led laps in the previous five races. On Sunday, he started second and stayed in the top three for the first 100 laps, but a pit-road mishap led to his car becoming ill-handling. He would struggle to stay among the leaders but managed his ninth straight top-10 finish at Texas.

What he said: "I don't know if I got behind on my adjustments or what. I didn't quite have my car how I needed it. I was pretty good there at the end, but it was kind of a weird deal. I would tighten it up and it would drive better for a little bit but then it would be looser later on. It was kind of hard to tell. ... It was an OK night, you know? It could have been better. We had a lot better car than that."

Joey Logano

Texas finish: 11th

Season standings: 17th (unchanged)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Gained one spot

Season position changes in closing laps: Gained 41 spots

Logano was not able to take advantage of his best qualifying run of sixth place for a top result. He remained inside the top 10 until the sun set, when he slid as low as 15th before rallying in the final 15 laps for his best Texas finish in four races.

What he said: "I feel like we finished about where we should have. I think we could have maybe finished a couple of spots better, but we were a seventh- to 11th-place car out there [Sunday night]. But I also think we were only a tenth of a second or so off from being a top-five car. We just lost the handle when the sun went down and couldn't really get it back. The car was just way too loose there at the end, and even when we did everything to tighten it up, we just couldn't get it to where I could really hustle the car."

Denny Hamlin

Texas finish: 20th

Chase standings: Seventh (down two positions, 73 points behind the leader)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Gained three spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Lost 62 spots

Hamlin stuck around the top 15 for the first two-thirds of the race before sustaining some damage that required extra pit stops. He got inside the top 20, then his car overheated toward the end of the race.

Ryan Newman

Texas finish: 12th

Season standings: 14th (up one position)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Gained eight spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Gained 53 spots

Newman turned his worst qualifying position at Texas since his first start at the track a decade ago into his best finish in the Lone Star state in five races. He gained an event-best eight spots in the final 34 laps.

What he said: "We came a long way from where we were at the start of the weekend. We were really off both days and qualified in the back. The guys made a lot of changes to the car [Saturday] night and [Sunday] morning. We ended up with a pretty good little Quicken Loans Chevrolet. Then, to get back all the spots that we lost when we had to pit a second time under caution for the loose wheel was pretty impressive. It was a great effort by everyone on the team, and I'm proud of our effort."

Jamie McMurray

Texas finish: 18th

Season standings: 20th (unchanged)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Zero spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Lost 72 spots

With a late-race surge, McMurray turned a 24th-place start into his fourth straight finish of 18th or better.

What he said: "We really worked hard for that 18th place finish [Sunday]. The guys ... made a lot of adjustments during our pit stops [Sunday]. We were lucky to get a few cautions to help us out with maintaining position on the lead lap and keep us in a position for a top-20. Our car was back and forth on the handling all day, both tight and loose at times, but the guys did a great job of adjusting along the way."

Jeff Burton

Texas finish: 19th

Season standings: 19th (unchanged)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Gained seven spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Gained 19 spots

Under a new crew chief, Burton bounced back and forth in the race. He started 24th and raced close to 15th place before sliding back toward 30th. Burton scrambled back to 20th and then rolled back before gaining seven spots in the last 34 laps for a top-20 finish, his best result in four races.

What he said: "Everyone on this Caterpillar Chevrolet team put in a solid effort all weekend. I just got crazy loose there toward the middle part of the race, and we couldn't catch a break until it was too late. [Crew chief] Shane [Wilson] did a great job during his first weekend on top of the box, and we hope to run strong again at Phoenix next week."

Danica Patrick

Texas finish: 24th

Patrick got her best finish in the ninth of 10 races in her limited debut schedule this year. She spent much of the race between 20th and 25th place and was able to get her first lead-lap finish of the season.

What she said: "I felt like it was a nice progression of the weekend where I actually felt like I knew why I went faster and I knew why I went slower. In the race, we were creeping along. We spent most of the race tight, but there late in the race we finally got it freed up enough to start really running some good speed. Those yellows at the end, I just didn't do a good enough job on those restarts and lost a whole bunch of spots. I'm really looking forward to next year."

Bobby Labonte

Texas finish: 33rd

Season standings: 23rd (up one position)

Texas position changes in closing laps: Zero spots

Season position changes in closing laps: Gained 38 spots

Labonte began the race with an ill-handling car and got caught on a Lap 120 wreck on a restart. He came back to the track to finish the race 51 laps behind the leaders and to work on some issues for the season finale at Homestead.

What he said: "It was a chain reaction in front of and behind me, and I got into the 21 car [of Trevor Bayne] and it knocked the radiator in. We were on the lead lap and in the top 20 when it happened. The guys did a good job repairing the car to get it back out there to test some things out that will help us in the near future. It definitely would have been a top-20 effort."

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