Roush Rewind: Daytona 500

The Roush Fenway Racing drivers proved that they were ready to give their all during the 52nd running of the Daytona 500. Three of them drove their Fords to top ten finishes and one narrowly missed finishing inside the top fifteen in the Great American Race.

Sunday was the fourth time David Ragan had run in the Daytona 500. He started 19th in his No. 6 UPS Ford. It would be the first race that crew chief Donnie Wingo would call the shots for the youngest Roush driver and his team. For a majority of the race, Ragan was between 15th and 21st place. When he finally cracked the top ten, it didn’t take long for him to make his presence known. He eventually took the lead and led a couple laps before Clint Bowyer took the lead back. The red flag waved for repairs to a pothole in turn two soon after Ragan settled into 2nd place. During a pit stop under caution late in the race, Ragan was blocked by the driver in the pit stall ahead of him, which cost him valuable positions. For the last restart of the race, Ragan was running 9th. However, he couldn’t remain inside the top ten when the checkered finally flag waved and ended up 16th in a car that was capable of a much better finish.

Carl Edwards was supposed to start 27th in his No. 99 Aflac Ford but had to go to the rear of the field before the race began due to an engine change made after final practice. He had a fast car, and it took him no time at all to gain positions. By lap 48, Edwards had worked his way up 9th. His pit crew was on top of their game nearly every pit stop and gained him positions almost every time. Edwards got up as high as 2nd place when teammate Greg Biffle was leading with about 25 laps to go. He got stuck in the middle groove and fell back to 11th with just 10 laps to go. Edwards tried to get back toward the front when the green flag waved for the last time, but he crossed the line in 9th place.

Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 DeWALT Ford Fusion that he drove to Victory Lane in 2009 was supposed to pace the field with the Mustang pace car before the race began, but it wouldn’t fire—a disappointment to many Kenseth fans who wanted to see that familiar yellow and black car on the track one last time. The defending Daytona 500 champion started 24th in his No. 17 Crown Royal Ford. The car was an ill-handling machine for a majority of the race and required numerous adjustments to improve the handling. When the first red flag of the day came out for repairs to the turn two pothole, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer called for a change in the front shocks. Kenseth would restart 33rd after that. Kenseth began running lap times faster than those of the leaders, but after a while, he settled in the mid-twenties in the field. After the second red flag for track repairs, Kenseth’s pit crew had to repair a hole in the nose of the car that resulted from some debris. Despite all his struggles, Kenseth rallied back the last couple laps to get an 8th place finish.

Greg Biffle started 23rd in his No. 16 3M Ford and was in position on more than one occasion to win Sunday’s race when he led a total of 27 laps. A major factor in Biffle’s charge to the front was his pit crew, the 3M Pit Bulls. The 3M Pit Bulls were in peak form throughout the race, gaining Biffle a total of 16 positions in the pits alone. Once Biffle had driven toward the front of the field, he was rarely seen outside the top ten. Two late cautions would take away Biffle’s shot to win the race. He made a charge toward the front one last time, but had to settle for 3rd, which was his career best finish in the Daytona 500.

After two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, it was former Roush Fenway Racing driver Jamie McMurray who took the checkered flag to become a first time Daytona 500 champion. Congratulations to Jamie McMurray and his team for a stellar performance in one of the most memorable Daytona 500 races in years!

Next up: Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
Roush Rewind: Daytona 500 Roush Rewind: Daytona 500 Reviewed by Whitney R. on Monday, February 15, 2010 Rating: 5