Monday, March 26, 2012

Roush Fenway Rewind: Rain doesn't stop Roush Fenway from having respectable finishes

Carl Edwards greets fans, during driver introductions at Auto
Club Speedway (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
In a race that was doomed by Mother Nature from the start, the Auto Club 400 still managed to make it past the halfway mark before the race was called for torrential rain. The boys of the Roush Fenway Racing teams all finished within the top 16 after all qualifying no lower than 15th.

At the beginning of the race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Greg Biffle would start his No. 16 3M Ford in the 4th position, with Carl Edwards  and his No. 99 Subway Ford in the 12th and Matt Kenseth in his No. 17 Ford EcoBoost Ford in the  15th  position. With strong qualifying positions, the Roush Fenway Racing camp had high hopes of dominating the race, as Joe Gibbs Racing seems to do during the NASCAR Nationwide races.

Within the first lap of the race, Biffle would find himself easing into the 3rd position, then splitting between the Toyota front row drivers of  Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, taking over 2nd place..  By Lap 4, Biffle was running in 3nd, Edwards in 11th, and Kenseth in 15th position.

However, despite strong starts, the RFR boys were crippled by somewhat basic car problems, including Kenseth complaining of possible motor issues. Edwards also claimed, like many other drivers, that he was “slick in one and two, sliding in the nose, and couldn’t get it to stop at all”.  Biffle often complained of needing track back adjustments and tape on his grill.

The boys were able to overcome these issues and maintain good green flag pit stops throughout the race, due to the fact there were no cautions during the race, until the rain caution fell on Lap 129.

On this caution, a number of drivers chose to pit, hoping the rain would dissipate and the race would go back to green in a short amount of time. This proved to be a frustrating pit stop for Kenseth, who ended up losing three positions in the finish of the race, due to a pit stop violation, in regards to an uncontrolled tire. He would finish the race in 16th place, rather than 13th.

On this pit stop, Edwards chose not to pit, believing with his crew chief (Bob Osborne) that the race would be called. This proved to be a good call, as Edwards would have his second top-5 finish of the season, finishing in 5th position. Biffle, also choosing to stay out of the pits, would finish 6th, one place behind Edwards. This choice would also allow Biffle to maintain his points lead, going into next week’s race at Martinsville.

The race was red flagged and soon called for rain at 2:20 p.m. PST. Many drivers and members of the media questioned this early calling of the race, but reports out of Fontana claim that the rain was still falling steadily at 7:00 p.m. PST.

Congratulations to Tony “Smoke” Stewart on his second win of the race. Rain delay or not, he had a fast car and, no doubt, had the ability to win the race had the drivers been able to run all 400 miles.

The Roush Fenway Racing teammates are now heading to Martinsville next weekend for the Goody’s Fast Relief 500, sitting strong in the points standings. Biffle leads the points, seven points ahead of Kevin Harvick. Kenseth remains in 6th position, only 22 points behind the leader. Edwards sits in the 12th position, 49 points behind Biffle.

(It must also be noted that Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, finished well in Saturday’s race at Auto Club Speedway, finishing in 2nd place. Roush Fenway Rewind would like to congratulate Stenhouse Jr on another great finish this season!)


Greg Biffle:
(Following Sunday’s race) “Well another decent day but not happy unless we’re winning!!! To tight and didn’t adjust on it enough coming on at the end!!

Matt Kenseth:
(Saturday, following a practice session, in response to a tweet from a fan asking “How do those bumps feel out there?”) “Bumpy.”

Carl Edwards:
As he remains, #TwitterlessCarl, I will once again turn to Lori (@99_RFRracing) for our Carl tweet. This was in response to Edwards battling Harvick for position during the race. (SN: Harvick was running his Jimmie John’s paint scheme this week)

“Ha- #CarlEdwards refers to racing @KevinHarvick as a sandwich battle (Subway vs. a competitor)”

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
(On his ride home Sunday) “On the big bird that Jack let’s us fly in headed home to nc.  Great racing at #AutoClub400 #NASCAR #RFR25

Roush Fenway Rewind would also like to apologize for no Recap following the Bristol “Food City 500”. Notes were prepared, but illness caused the recap to not be submitted. This will, hopefully, be the only week without a recap. Thanks for your patience!


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