Monday, July 30, 2012

Roush Fenway Rewind: Biffle the lone survivor at the Brickyard



Heading into Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Jack Roush and Roush Fenway Racing have yet to kiss the bricks of the hallowed grounds though they have finished second four times. Kissing the bricks was not in the cards this year either - only one driver walked away with a top finish while the other two were left ...well, disgusted.

Credit: Tyler Barrick/Getty Images for NASCAR
Greg Biffle, No. 16 3M
Started: 5th
Finished: 3rd 
Points: 3rd (-22)

Greg Biffle was Jack Roush's one and only shot at kissing the bricks on Sunday and boy, he came close.

Battling loose conditions throughout the race, you would never know it by the way Biffle was racing. In the top 5 for much of the race, the race was a bit of a handful for "The Biff," as crew chief Matt Puccia worked to adjust the handling on the No. 16.

The final pit stop of the day came under caution at Lap 124 and the Biffle/Puccia duo debated to take 2 or 4 tires but opted for track position, taking 2 tires. Leaving pit road the leader, the call hurt them in the long road as everyone else took 4 and another caution came out to reset the field. In the end, Biffle couldn't hold off the dominant Jimmie Johnson, settling for a 3rd-place finish. Biffle remains third in the points, just 22 behind new leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.

"We did two tires there at the end, and I thought a lot of people would do two tires, and it turned out most everybody did four. That hurt us a little bit, but still, we ended up third. Kind of flattened off," Biffle said in his post-race media conference. "That caution right there probably helped us, probably helped the tires equalize, and when we fired off there again we were able to maintain."

An innocent bystander, Kenseth's day ended after being hit by
Joey Logano. Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Fifth Third Bank
Started: 10th 
Finished: 35th
Points: 2nd (-14)

Heading into Indy the points leader, Matt Kenseth had a lot to lose in the Curtis Shaver 400 and he did just that, none of it his own making.


Running in the top 10 for much of the race, Kenseth was involved in an accident with less then 30 laps to go and received his first since 2011.

At Lap 134 Joey Logano got loose in Turn 1 and lost control of his car, sliding into Trevor Bayne and starting a chain reaction accident. Bobby Labonte got hit as Logano dropped low and then he shot back up the track, collecting Kenseth. The No. 17 burst into flames, Kenseth exited safely and with a look of evident disgust and disappointment on his face.

"The farther that we went back, the dumber people drove," Kenseth said after being treated and released from the infield care center. "You could see it was just a matter of time before the wreck happened and somehow I was hoping I wasn't going to be in it," Kenseth said to the waiting media.

"Yeah, it is frustrating," Kenseth said in reference to getting caught up in Logano's accident. "I got hung out on the restart which is one thing. I was trying to get through there and the 14 wiped the whole side off my car in the straightaway for no reason and that kind of made me mad. I was in front of the 9 and saw he had a run so I went down to block and he went across the grass and shot me up out of the groove there. It is crazy there at the end. You could see the wreck happening and I was just hoping I wasn’t going to be in it."

 Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America
Carl Edwards, No. 99 Fastenal
Started: 2nd
Finished: 29th
Points: 12th (-149)

Since we last raced, there have been huge changes in the Carl Edwards camp at Roush Fenway Racing. Longtime crew chief Bob Osborne stepped down from his position due to an undisclosed medical condition and Chad Norris was tapped to replace him. A Twitter phenomena emerged: #ChadNorrisFacts had everyone involved and rolling with laughter. Just for a laugh: RT @dcaraviello Chad Norris has a grizzly bear rug in his living room. The bear isn't dead. It's just afraid to move. #ChadNorrisFacts

Norris and Edwards were off to a great start, qualifying for the Brickyard in second place, seeming to have a smooth transition but mechanical issues plagued their start. At Lap 13, while in third place, Edwards dropped off pace with an unknown engine issue. After heading to pit road, Norris and the team concluded that spark plugs would need to be replaced. With already being two laps down, they ran on track until a caution came out and headed to pit road to replace spark plugs and the ECU. Whatever the issue was, Edwards returned to track and was running better, though 4 laps down. A non-factor the rest of the race, the 99 team finished in 29th and dropped to 12th in the points.

"We know it's some issue. We think it's some issue with the ECU. We changed that, along with the sparkplugs, and the engine started running better," Edwards said on the engine problem. "But the biggest thing is our strategy. I don't think we are points racing anymore. I think we are officially racing only for wins, so we have been kind of going over things that are fresh in our minds to determine the best strategy. We had one thing, and that was a very fast race car. Greg (Biffle) finished third in his car, and I felt that ours was as good as his. We want to make one thing for sure: We do not quit. We keep going. We put our best effort forth, and if it's (making Chase) meant to be, then it's meant to be."

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