Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Roush Rewind: Food City 500

While many people probably don’t think of Roush Fenway Racing drivers when they think of Bristol Motor Speedway, there is no denying the Roush drivers know their way around the “World’s Fastest Half Mile”. From 2002-2008, a Roush Fenway Racing driver had won one of the Bristol races. Kyle Busch ended their streak when he swept both Bristol races in 2009. During Sunday’s Food City 500, the Roush drivers all put on a good show despite the fact Mother Nature threatened to cause problems, but the race was only delayed by rain twice, and even those delays weren’t very long. Three of the Roush drivers finished inside the top ten, while one was caught up in the “big one” that stopped him from getting the decent finish he would have been capable of.

David Ragan started 30th in his No. 6 UPS Ford. Despite such a bad qualifying effort, starting toward the back was nothing new to Ragan. He began to gain positions, but he had to battle a tight racecar. Ragan ran anywhere between 16th and 22nd for much of the race. Just when it looked like he had a good run going, his teammate Greg Biffle got into Mark Martin in turn 3 and triggered the “big one”. Ragan had nowhere to go to avoid the melee and the left front of his car was badly damaged. He pitted for repairs while the field was under caution. Ragan left pit road after the repairs, but things went from bad to worse. As soon as he got back on the track, the brake rotor broke, causing the left front tire to go down. Ragan had to take his battered car behind the wall. The UPS Racing crew worked diligently to get Ragan back out. He finally returned to the track in 31st position, multiple laps down. Ragan managed to gain two more positions in the waning laps to ultimately finish 29th.

Carl Edwards qualified solidly inside the top ten and started 8th on Sunday in his No. 99 Scott’s Turf Builder Ford. Edwards ran well in the beginning of the race, but just before lap 100 he fell to 25th position as he got stuck the damaged car of Joey Logano. While many teams were reporting issues of tire wear, Edwards was careful to take care of the tires on his racecar. A little past halfway, Edwards had worked his way back up to 18th position. He was also in the middle of the wreck triggered by Mark Martin and Greg Biffle, but he received minimal damage. Edwards had made his way up to 9th with 50 laps remaining. On the last restart, Edwards was lined up third, behind teammate Matt Kenseth, but Kenseth spun his tires and slowed Edwards’ progress. Edwards would finish 6th when the checkered flag waved.

Matt Kenseth qualified his No. 17 Crown Royal Ford in the 7th position. Kenseth’s main complaint throughout the race was that his car was tight in the turns. He pitted under the caution on lap 41 so his crew could make adjustments. He restarted 11th after that, but it seemed the adjustments his crew had made didn’t help get the car’s handling to Kenseth’s liking. Unable to get the grip he needed, Kenseth couldn’t challenge for track positions and slowly drifted back. A pit stop under caution around lap 265 found Kenseth still looking for the grip he needed. The Killer Bees went to work and made changes to te spring rubber and wedge of Kenseth's racecar. He restarted 24th on lap 272. When the “big one” happened in turn three that involved about 13 cars, Kenseth was lucky enough to be well ahead of it. He was running third at the time. Kenseth was 2nd with about 10 laps remaining, but once the checkered flag waved, Kenseth crossed the line in the 5th position. Kenseth is now just 1 point away from taking over the lead in the Sprint Cup points standings.

Greg Biffle started Sunday’s race in the 25th position in his No. 16 Census 2010/3M Ford. Biffle had worked his way up to 18th position by the time the first caution came out on lap 40. After a long green flag run, Biffle had moved inside the top five. Biffle took the lead from Kurt Busch around lap 124 and held onto the lead until Juan Pablo Montoya got around him on lap 178. He would reclaim the lead nearly 20 laps later and held onto it until the caution came out on lap 204. He restarted 2nd on lap 211 and was once again the front runner just 4 laps later. Biffle was able to escape the wreck he started after getting into Mark Martin. With about 10 laps remianing, Biffle would lead the field to green with teammates Kenseth in 2nd and Edwards in 3rd. Unable to keep the lead, Biffle was 4th to take the checkered flag.

Despite the strong runs by the Roush Fenway Racing drivers, they couldn’t stop Jimmie Johnson from taking the checkered flag for Sunday’s Food City 500. Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 crew!

Next up: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Photos courtesy of Whitney Richards

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