Monday, March 1, 2010

Roush Rewind: Shelby American

Roush Fenway Racing looked to redeem itself at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday. In 2009, Lady Luck frowned upon the Roush drivers as two of them had engine failures just a few laps in. However, on Sunday, Lady Luck gave them a break as two of them led some laps and three finished inside the top 15.

David Ragan started 18th in his No. 6 UPS Ford. In the first few laps, his teammates were moving forward, but he was going the opposite direction. By lap 20, Ragan had dropped to 22nd and five laps later he had lost another three spots back to 25th. On lap 46 when the caution flag waved for Mike Bliss hitting the wall, Ragan, along with everyone else, pitted. He would restart 23rd. Around lap 162, a cycle of green flag stops began. Ragan pitted, but a mishap on pit road hurt his chances of getting a good finish. While fueling the car, the gas man allowed some fuel to spill out, resulting in Ragan’s car not getting all the fuel it needed. That mishap would cause Ragan to need to pit again on lap 207 under green. He lost a lap due to that extra stop. Being a lap down, Ragan struggled to gain positions. On lap 185, there were only 13 drivers on the lead lap. Despite a caution on lap 232 brought out by Kevin Conway hitting the wall, Ragan didn’t get back on the lead lap. He finished 23rd, a lap down. Last November, Ragan said a major goal for him and his team was to be more consistent in 2010. Although, back-to-back 23rd place finishes probably wasn’t what he had in mind, Ragan and his team do seem to be working on their consistency.

Carl Edwards started 12th in his No. 99 Aflac Ford and got inside the top 10 within the first 12 laps. He was up to 8th just a few laps later. On lap 42, Edwards had worked his way up to 4th. Edwards was 4th off pit road while pitting under the caution that came out on lap 46. Edwards hung around inside the top ten for a majority of the race. On lap 88, the caution flag waved as Sam Hornish, Jr. spun. Edwards was 2nd for the restart. He slowly drifted back in the next few laps, but still remained in the top 10. On lap 108, the caution flag waved again due to a malfunction with the caution lights that caused them to go off when they weren’t supposed to. Edwards pitted, taking 2 tires and fuel, and was 6th off pit road. He would restart 7th. By lap 122, Edwards had fallen back to 13th. He was in 14th position by lap 185, but was a lap down. Edwards managed to get his lap back, but never got back inside the top 10. He would finish 12th.

Greg Biffle was the only Roush driver who qualified inside the top 10. He started in the 7th position in his No. 16 3M Ford, but it would take him 23 laps to get inside the top five. Biffle was running 4th when Mike Bliss crashed and brought the caution out on lap 46. He pitted during that caution, and with a 12.8 second pit stop, he was 2nd off pit road. The race restarted on lap 53, and Biffle took the lead on the next lap. The caution came out just seconds after Biffle took the lead. The caution lights had failed to turn off during the restart the previous lap. Biffle led the field back to green on lap 57, but lost the lead on the next lap and settled into 2nd position. After the caution on lap 88, Biffle restarted 5th. On lap 103, Biffle found himself running in 3rd, with teammate Kenseth ahead of him in 2nd and teammate Edwards behind him in 4th. A pit stop under the caution on lap 108 brought out by the malfunctioning caution lights, would cause a problem for Biffle. As he went to exit his pit stall, he had to stop as A.J. Allmendinger was entering his pit stall as Biffle was exiting his. Biffle restarted 25th. He battled his way back through the field and on lap 176, he was back up to 9th. Biffle didn’t crack the top five again, but was 10th to cross the line when the checkered flag waved.

Matt Kenseth started 11th in his No. 17 Ford. He lost a few positions in the first 10 laps and dropped to 15th. Kenseth began to move forward by lap 22 and by lap 35 he was up to 10th. After the caution on lap 46, Kenseth would restart in the 6th position. Kenseth was up to 4th by lap 59 and in another ten laps he was up to 2nd. Kenseth would win the race off pit road after the caution on lap 88 brought out by Hornish. Kenseth led the field back to green on lap 93. Kenseth was still leading the next lap when Jamie McMurray wrecked teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, an incident that also involved Kurt Busch. The race restarted on lap 98 as Kenseth tried to hold off Jeff Gordon. Kenseth was unable to hold onto the lead. When the caution lights malfunctioned on lap 108, Kenseth pitted and took two tires, but he also lost two positions. He restarted 5th on lap 114. A couple laps later, Kenseth had to battle Jimmie Johnson for 2nd place, but couldn’t keep Johnson from passing him. On lap 146, Kenseth, who was 3rd at the time, had to make an unscheduled pit stop. He felt that the right front tire was loose, but crew chief Todd Parrott thought it was the right rear tire that was causing the problem. It seems that Parrott may indeed be the change the No. 17 team needed. Kenseth jumped up to 3rd when the leaders began making green flag pit stops around lap 160. After a close battle with Joey Logano on the last lap, Kenseth finished 5th—his 3rd consecutive top-10 finish of the season.

While there were no engine failures to slow the Roush Fenway Racing drivers down at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this time around, they were no match for Hendrick Motorsports as Jimmie Johnson fought off teammate Jeff Gordon to win the Shelby American. Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 crew!


Next up: Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Note: Whitney will be out of town next weekend and will be unable to watch the race. There will be no Roush Rewind for Atlanta.

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