Roush Rewind: 400

Following last week’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, the Sprint Cup Series traveled to Chicagoland Speedway, located in Joliet, Illinois. The Roush Fenway Racing drivers came to the 1.5-mile track looking to improve from the previous week’s race, which had been a big disappointment for nearly all four of them. It seemed the entire team did a complete 180 from last weekend. On Saturday night, the Roush Fenway Racing drivers ran one of their best races of the season at the 400. Three finished inside the top fifteen, while one had to accept a disappointing finish after mechanical issues ended his night early.

For Greg Biffle and his crew, things looked promising leading up to the race. Biffle was 3rd fastest in final practice and despite being the 8th driver out to qualify, held onto the 4th starting position. From the drop of the green flag, the No. 16 Filtrete Ford was rarely seen outside the top ten. In fact, he was up to 2nd almost as soon as the race started. He dropped to 3rd after his racecar became tight in the center of the turns, loose off. The first caution of the night came out on lap 39 for debris. Biffle was 6th coming onto pit road. He pitted for fuel, four tires, and numerous adjustments to the track bar, wedge, and air pressure. The Pit Bulls were flawless in servicing the car and helped Biffle gain two positions to be 4th for the restart. Biffle had drifted back to 9th after reporting his car was lacking front grip. He made a green-flag stop on lap 90 for tires, fuel, and more adjustments. Once those green-flag stops cycled through, he was 10th. When the caution came out again on lap 129 for debris, Biffle pitted for more adjustments to his tight-handling racecar. He restarted 12th and was up to 7th when the 4th caution of the day came out on lap 179 for a crash involving Bill Elliott and Robby Gordon. Biffle pitted under the caution after letting his crew know his car had become a little loose. Biffle’s crew picked up one position in the pits for Biffle to restart 6th. However, just one lap later, it became apparent something was wrong with the No. 16 Ford. Biffle reported to crew chief Greg Erwin that there was a problem with the engine. He began to drop back through the field rather quickly, and by lap 217, Biffle had gone a lap down. Just ten laps later, Biffle drove the car to the garage where the team discovered a part failure had caused the engine to go. Biffle was left accepting a 35th finishing position after such a promising performance earlier in the race. He dropped one position to 11th in the standings.

Chicagoland Speedway is a special place for Matt Kenseth and his crew. Ten members of the team are from either Wisconsin or Illinois and consider Chicagoland to be their home track. Kenseth has had some pretty successful races at the track and was hoping to get a solid finish on Saturday. During Friday’s two practice sessions, Kenseth’s crew focused mainly on their race set-up. Kenseth’s No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford started out tight in practice then went to being a little loose. His qualifying effort wasn’t as great as he’d hoped. Kenseth started 34th on Saturday, and was 28th when the first caution came out on lap 39. He let crew chief Jimmy Fennig know that the car ran well the first few laps, but it had become tight in the center of the turns, loose in and off the turns. Kenseth pitted for tires, fuel, and track bar and air pressure adjustments. He restarted 25th, but soon let his crew know that the car’s handling had become looser and that it was lacking rear grip. On lap 91, Kenseth made a green-flag stop for fuel, tires, and more track bar and air pressure adjustments. As the sun began to set, Kenseth said his car seemed to be tightening up. Once night fell upon the speedway, Kenseth’s car started out fast during the runs, but would become loose off the turns and tight in the center. Kenseth had worked his way up to 13th around lap 225. He remained in that position for the end of the race. Despite finishing 13th, Kenseth dropped one position to 8th in the standings.

David Ragan and the UPS crew came to Chicagoland intent upon getting a good finish for the race. Ragan mentioned on Twitter that he hoped that running the silver UPS Freight paint scheme would bring the team some luck. It seemed to do just that. Ragan wasn’t exactly fast in practice on Friday and qualified the No. 6 UPS Freight Ford in the 24th position later that evening. The green flag waved, and almost immediately Ragan reported to crew chief Donnie Wingo that his car was just a bit too tight in the center of the turns. He pitted under the first caution on lap 39 for tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment. Ragan quickly picked up positions during the following long green-flag run, but as the sun came out from behind the clouds, the No. 6 Ford began to get progressively freer. He made a green-flag stop on lap around lap 91 for four tires and fuel. Since nightfall was coming, Wingo didn’t want to make any major adjustments to Ragan’s racecar since they knew the handling would change anyway once the sun went down. Ragan was up to 15th by the time night fell, but his car’s handling was still free and the nose of the car was sliding up off the turns. After a couple more pit stops, the adjustments Ragan’s crew made had improved the handling. However, the field was spread due to green-flag runs that Ragan couldn’t gain too many more positions. Thanks to a pit crew that brought their A-game to the track and a fast racecar, Ragan was 12th to take the checkered flag. The finish allowed him to gain a position in the standings up to 25th.

Carl Edwards had a solid night on Saturday. He qualified the No. 99 Aflac Ford in the 11th position on Friday evening. At the drop of the green flag, Edwards began to move through the field. Up to 8th around lap 20, Edwards was dealing with a car that was a little loose. He pitted under the first caution on lap 39 for fuel, tires, and a track bar adjustment. He lost a few positions during the stop due to a lug nut coming off the right-rear tire, but the crew put it back on and sent Edwards back out. The No. 99 Ford was fast so it didn’t take long for Edwards to make up the positions he lost. He was up to 6th by lap 50 and remained in that position for a majority of the time. By lap 200, Edwards was still in the 6th position. The adjustments that crew chief Bob Osborne called for during pit stops helped Edwards’ start to make his charge to the front. It was during the last laps of the race that the No. 99 Ford seemed to spring to life. Edwards suddenly began to move through the field. He was 4th on lap 217, and stayed out to lead two laps when the field began to cycle through green-flag stops for a final time. On lap 234, Edwards pitted for tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment. Once the stops cycled through, Edwards was still 4th, but six laps later, he was up to 2nd. Edwards tried his best to chase down race leader David Reutimann. His lap times were faster than Reutimann’s, but there just weren’t enough laps left for Edwards to catch up. Saturday night could be called Edwards's best race of the season. He never dropped outside the top 15 during the race and his 2nd place finish was his best finish of the season. The great finish helped him gain two positions in the standings up to 10th.

While Carl Edwards made a valiant attempt to get Roush Fenway Racing’s—as well as his own—first Cup win of the 2010 season, he just didn’t have enough time to catch up to David Reutimann, who took the checkered flag. It was Reutimann’s second Sprint Cup career win. Congratulations to David Reutimann and the 00 team on their victory!

Next up: Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Roush Rewind: 400 Roush Rewind: 400 Reviewed by Whitney R. on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 Rating: 5

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