Sunday, May 23, 2010

Roush Rewind: All-Star Showdown


Coming into the Sprint All-Star weekend, Matt Kenseth was the only Roush Fenway Racing driver locked into the All-Star race. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, and David Ragan were going to have to try and race their way in during the All-Star Showdown, prior to the big race. With two 40-lap segments between them and their shot at $1 million, the three Roush drivers knew they would have to give it all they had if they wanted to make the All-Star Race.

David Ragan was first out to qualify on Friday for the Showdown. Usually, being the first out is a disadvantage, but with only four cars left to qualify, rain began to fall at Charlotte. When NASCAR decided to call off qualifying, the field was set according to the qualifying draw. Ragan got the pole position for the Showdown. Starting first in the No. 6 UPS Ford, Ragan led all 20 laps of the first segment. The caution was scheduled to come out on lap 20 to signal the end of segment 1, but on lap 17, Juan Pablo Montoya and Regan Smith crashed. Under the caution, Ragan and teammate Greg Biffle, who was running in 2nd, both stayed out while almost everyone else pitted. On the following restart, Biffle took the lead from Ragan. Before they completed that lap, David Gilliland, running 3rd, slid up into Ragan. Ragan’s car suffered right side damage. Once more, Ragan and Gilliland made contact. The caution flag waved as Gilliland spun. Ragan was 4th for the following restart. The damage to his racecar had caused the car to become tight. Since there was no fenders rubbing the tires, Ragan never pitted. He didn’t want to lose track position. Ragan was able to hold on for a 6th place finish in the Showdown. Once again, Ragan failed to make the All-Star Race. He would be the only Roush Fenway Racing driver to not make the 2010 All-Star Race.

Greg Biffle was faced with the possibility that, for the first time in seven years, he might not be in the All-Star Race. Due to qualifying being rained out, Biffle started the Showdown in the 5th position. With the special 3M Pit Bulls paint scheme on the No. 16, Biffle was determined to give it his all to make the All-Star Race. Once the green flag waved, Biffle charged to the front. He was up to 2nd and running down teammate Ragan by lap 3. For the remaining 17 laps of segment 1, Biffle remained 2nd to his teammate. He stayed out under the caution between the two segments of the Showdown. Biffle restarted 2nd, but took the lead almost immediately once the green flag waved again. By lap 8 of segment 2, Martin Truex, Jr. had moved up to 2nd and was gaining on Biffle. A few laps later, Truex, Jr. took the lead. Biffle remained 2nd as the checkered flag waved and Truex, Jr. won the Showdown.

Due to his qualifying draw, Carl Edwards started the Showdown in the 26th position. By lap 8, Edwards had driven the No. 99 Aflac Ford up to the 21st position. Edwards never really made his presence known in the Showdown. He worked his way up to 15th by the time the caution came out during segment 1. Unlike his teammates, Edwards did pit between the two segments. He remained around the 15th position for almost half of the second segment. Edwards was up to 14th by the eighth lap, but gained 4 more positions before the checkered flag waved to finish 10th in the Showdown. At first, it seemed Edwards would join his teammate Ragan in having to watch the All-Star Race from the sidelines. However, during the driver intros for the All-Star Race, it was announced that Edwards had won the fan vote, which secured his position in the big race.

Congratulations to Carl Edwards for winning the fan vote! Congratulations to Martin Truex, Jr. and the No. 56 team on their victory in the Showdown!

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