Monday, June 18, 2012

Roush Fenway Rewind: Pride on the line at the 'House of Roush'

Greg Biffle battles Ford teammate Marcos Ambrose for the lead during the Quicken Loans
400 at Michigan International Speedway. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Rolling into the Irish Hills of Michigan, no team had more pressure then that of the Roush Fenway Racing trio of drivers. Nearby Livonia, MI is the home base for Roush and winning at MIS is something that the "Roushketeers" do well.

With 21 total wins at MIS, 11 of those being Cup wins, no organization matches the success of RFR. On top of those 21 wins, the team boasts 97 top fives, 147 top 10s and 10 poles, while leading over 3,500 laps in combined NASCAR competition at the track.

Heading into the Quicken Loans 400, Matt Kenseth led the points standings as Greg Biffle was one to watch all weekend long. Blazing fast in practice, Biffle led the Roush team in qualifying efforts to start in third position.

Teammate Carl Edwards had ground to make up after being unable to complete a lap during qualifying. Edwards diagnosed it as a fuel pickup issue and the 99 team was able to fix the issue and have the car up and running for the final "surprise" practice after qualifying.

Greg Biffle, No. 16 3M An American Salute Ford
Started: 3rd
Finished: 4th
Points: 3rd

Taking the lead on Lap 6, Greg Biffle and Matt Puccia were one team who overcame the variables. Biffle led a total of three separate times  for 38 laps, second only to that of race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"Well we had a bad ass fast car today but had to be easy on the gas because we were blistering right rear tires!!! 4th not bad congrats to jr," Biffle Tweeted after the race.

Puccia won the DirectTV Crew Chief of the Race Award which is given to the crew chief of the driver who has demonstrated the best combined qualifying and race effort based on the lowest average of a team’s starting and finishing position.

Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford EcoBoost
Started: 6th
Finished: 3rd
Points: 1st

Taking the lead early, Kenseth battled with Marcos Ambrose for position between competition cautions.  Leading 17 laps, Kenseth was in the top 10 for much of the race. Struggling with handling issues like everyone else, Kenseth was able to bring home a third place finish.

"Yeah, it was an up and down day for us. We were fortunate to qualify good and our first couple restarts weren’t great but we finally got our way to the front there and had a good fuel only stop there and led a few laps. We got behind in the pits for a little while, that one time taking more fuel and restarted seventh. It was hard for me to get going on the bottom. The next stop we caught a yellow and got a lap down. From there it was a battle but we got the car good at the end and we were able to make a pretty good charge so it was a pretty good day," Kenseth said when asked about his race.

He also successfully protected his points lead with that third-place finish, even with Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the race. Kenseth has a mere 4 point lead heading into Sonoma next week.

Although no post-race Tweets, (maybe Kenseth broke his phone?) I did find this gem from Saturday night. "Wow, the new, I mean different LS tire really threw us a curve ball. Im hoping Jimmy and boys come up with a magic setup tonight!"

Carl Edwards, No. 99 Fastenal Ford
Started: 42nd
Finished: 11th
Points: 11th

Qualifying was a no-go for Carl Edwards and the 99 team. "Abort, abort," Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne said as Edwards detected something was amiss in the engine. After attempting to re-start his first lap, Edwards had to return to pit road, stating that he thought there was a problem with the fuel pick-up on his Fastenal Ford Fusion. Remaining upbeat, he said he'd rather have the issue in qualifying than during the race.

With ground to make up, Edwards moved forward from the drop of the green flag! Within the first lap, he'd  already gained eight positions. Battling loose conditions and a slick track, Edwards steadily gained positions as Osborne went to work on the No. 99 to adjust the handling.

Gaining a total of 31 positions, Edwards finished the day in 11th and remains 11th in the points standings.

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