Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roush Fenway Rewind: Kenseth Wins At Daytona!

Kenseth celebrates second Daytona 500 win and RFR's 300th
win. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
At the end of what some have called a “legendary” or “epic” Daytona 500 race, Roush Fenway Racing clinched their historic 300th win when Matt Kenseth drove the No. 17 Best Buy Ford to Victory Lane early Tuesday morning.

Roush Fenway Racing began the race strong, with Carl Edwards and his No. 99 Fastenal Ford on the pole. Sitting next to him on the front row was Greg Biffle in his No. 16 3M Ford. This would be the first time that that Roush Racing had swept the first row at the start of the Great American Race.

Prior to the start of the race, over the in-car radio while talking with Darrell Waltrip, Edwards had this to say about the race. “We’ve got the same plan we had the last race there at Homestead…Just go out, try to lead every lap, try to win this thing.”

Following a strong start and a fast pit stop, Edwards kept his Ford fast and in the top three until he got caught up in the middle of a three-wide pack on Lap 17 and lost a number of spots.

During this time, Biffle stayed strong, run as low as 10th, but gaining position with ease and running in the top three most of beginning of the race.  With drafting help from Marco Ambrose, Biffle began leading the pack by Lap 68.

Kenseth ran in the top ten for most of the first quarter of the race, dropping into the teens on occasion. At Lap 70, Kenseth began overheating, saying his “water system wouldn’t pressurize”. On top of this, he began having radio issues that would plague him the remainder of the race.

Starting at 21st, the lowest start of all of the Roush Fenway racing drivers, first time Daytona 500 contender, No. 6 Ford EcoBoost driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  dropped as low as 28th by Lap 52, but remained steady in his position, for the most part.

At the beginning of the halfway mark, three of the four Roush Fenway Racing drivers were in the top ten, while Stenhouse Jr. was running 23rd.  Biffle lead the race for the majority of the halfway lap and looked to be the driver who would claim the $200,000 midway bonus. However, in the last few seconds, Denny Hamlin pushed Martin Truex Jr to the lead. Although Biffle wouldn’t claim the bonus check, he was the driver who had led the most laps for the first half of the race.

At Lap 109, Edwards complained of fuel problems. He stated that his fuel pressure gauge was going up and down and the gauge light was going off and on. It was suggested that there were possible problems with the sport’s new electronic fuel injection.

Kenseth would overcome his previous water pressure issues and take the lead on Lap 145. Prior to this, Biffle had maintained a spot in the top three, occasionally obtaining the lead. Following his fuel pressure problems, Edwards found himself buried in the pack in the 20th position, often with Stenhouse Jr. who was running 21st for the majority of the time.

With 40 laps to go, the red flag would drop, due to an incident with Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42 directly hitting the back engine area of a jet dryer (on the track for a caution involving David Stremme). At the time of the caution, Kenseth was running fifth, Biffle was in tenth, Edwards was running 17th and Stenhouse Jr was in the 27th position.

The red flag would last for a total of 2 hours and 5 minutes because of the massive fire and extensive clean-up effort. This break would give the drivers a reprieve and chance to be out of their cars and spend time with one another on the backstretch. Before exiting the car, Edwards, ever the comedian, responded with this to crew chief Bob Osborne’s question, over the in-car radio, asking if he needed anything, “…I would really like a snack cracker over here or something. I was thinking of a…maybe a Ritz or a sub sandwich (in reference to Subway). Maybe a Cheez-It. Cheez-Its would be good.” Osborne, knowing Carl was messing with him and referencing a few of his many sponsors, responded, without hesitation, “ I like Cheez-Its.”

Kenseth was another Roush Fenway Racing driver who turned to comedy to break the stress what was becoming a three day attempt at a 500 mile race. While Edwards was being interviewed by Matt Yocum, Kenseth took the opportunity to mess with Yocum, by tugging on his headset and pulling it up off his head.  Kenseth saw this made Edwards laugh on camera and continued his antics, by flipping Yocum on the backside with a water bottle while Biffle was being interviewed moments later.

When the red flag was finally lifted, Edwards’ laughter was halted when it was announced both he and Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Kyle Busch, would have to restart from the rear of the field, due to both drivers pulling tear-offs from their cars’ windshields during the red flag.

The yellow flag remained until there were 34 laps to go. On the last caution lap, the four leading drivers (Dave Blaney, Landon Cassill, Tony Raines, and David Gilliland) all went down pit road, placing Matt Kenseth in the lead when the green flag was waved.

Halfway through Lap 166, Biffle would move ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to take over second place.

On Lap 175, Kenseth remained in the lead with Biffle still in second. Stenhouse Jr ran  19th, while Edwards struggled to return to the front of the pack in 26th position.  During this time, Kenseth battled radio issues again, when he could hear both his crew and Mike Calinoff, his spotter, but neither could hear him.

Edwards was hit on the front bumper in a pack wreck that caused the ninth caution, on Lap 187, but the damage was only minor. Edwards, however, lost ten positions after having to pit. He would restart in 23rd.

With seven laps to go, Kenseth still maintained the lead, with Biffle in second, constantly battling with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the position until he finally fell to fourth position with six laps to go.

With four laps to go, Joey Logano seemed to have tapped Stenhouse Jr, who was running 12th. This caused Stenhouse Jr. to move up into reigning Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart, bringing out the tenth caution of the race, also forcing a Green-White-Checker finish.

Winner of the 2012 Daytona 500 - Matt Kenseth.
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
With this wreck, Kenseth found himself in the perfect position. Despite a small run by Biffle, Kenseth would take the checkered flag and win his second Daytona 500 (his first being in 2009).

Biffle finished third after a last-minute fight with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was able to inch past Biffle at the finish line.

Edwards would finish eighth, a solid top-ten finish despite restarting at the back with 40 laps to go.

The wreck on Lap 196 would push Stenhouse Jr. back to a 20th place finish.

When asked in Victory Lane if he had thought he had a chance to win the race when his engine was spewing water early in the race, Kenseth responded, with a smile on his face, “Not really. We had a lot of problems. We had engines spewing water…we had a little bit of fuel problem…we lost the tachometer, lost the radios, and I couldn’t talk…what a great race!”

He later said that both he and Biffle had “really fast rockets” and it all boiled down to who was “in the front at the end”.

Biffle’s response to this was that it was “like the 17 had more motor!” and it just “wasn’t meant to be.”

And with a race that had pre-race festivities on Sunday, a green flag on Monday, and a checkered flag early Tuesday morning, Roush Fenway Racing stuck it out and welcomed long-time RFR driver Matt Kenseth to Victory Lane and into the books with his second Daytona 500 win and Roush Fenway’s historic 300th victory. Congrats to Matt Kenseth, his whole team, and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing!

Top Tweets From Roush Fenway Racing This Week:
This week’s tweets will be tweets from the RFR drivers, either in regards to the rain delay or during the rain delay.

Greg Biffle:
“Pouring down now!!!!!! This sucks everyone is ready, fans are ready, now we need mother nature to be ready.” (Sunday afternoon)

Matt Kenseth:
(After retweeting with “LOL” when someone joked that the long rain delays caused the Kenseth family to announce child #4 was on the way)   “Holy cow, the guy was JOKING about the rain delay, NO baby on way!!!”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.:
“Actually lovin the sound of jet dryers right now @DISUpdates normally they make me mad and wake me up #Daytona500” (Sunday afternoon, when there was still hopes of a race that day)

Carl Edwards:
Unfortunately, Carl is #TwitterlessCarl, so there is no tweet from him. You will just have to enjoy his Red Flag humor from earlier in the recap!

2 comments :

Great recap!!! Lost of tidbits that I had no idea went down. Congrats to the #17 team overcoming a ton of adversity to win.

Great Article Bri. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

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