Monday, August 6, 2012

Roush Fenway Rewind: Pocono disappointments for Kenseth, Biffle



Pocono Raceway. aka the "Tricky Triangle", turned into a soggy wet mess. From rain delaying the start to eventually shortening the event, this was not the race that anyone had hoped for.

Matt Kenseth was looking to retake the points lead and it looked possible as Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke his transmission, but Jimmie Johnson dampened that hope as he crashed into Kenseth. Greg Biffle was a bystander of that crash and ended his day unhappy. The lone Roush Fenway driver to finish the race, Carl Edwards, had moderate results -  a seventh place finish - but is still on the outside looking in as the Chase draws near.

Greg Biffle, No. 16 3M
Started: 12th
Finished: 15th
Points: 3rd (-6) 

Starting the day in 12th, Greg Biffle had quite a day at the "Tricky Triangle." Battling handling issues, crew chief Matt Puccia took a swing during the competition caution, adjusting the air pressure along with taking tires and fuel. Biffle reported that helped but he was still needed to "turn a tick better" and on the following stop Puccia repeated with another air pressure adjustment.

Restarting the race in third (Lap 90) Biffle's quest to beat the rain and take the lead was foiled by wrecking ahead of him. Jimmie Johnson reportedly had a tire go down causing him to wreck into Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin was also victim to the accident. Trying to avoid the mess, Biffle brushed the wall. During cleanup the rains came and the race was never restarted. According to the scoring loops, Biffle was in 15th at the time of the caution as he slowed to avoid the accident. Biffle remains third in points as the series heads to Watkins Glen.

“I don’t know what happened, the 48 just spun out,” said Biffle. “I never even slowed down. I went up, kissed the fence, shifted down and was digging like hell. I had to wait for the No. 17 to cross in front of me and watched him take the No. 11 out then I went and they put me all the way back to 16th. There is no way. No way.”

Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images for NASCAR
Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Zest
Started: 7th
Finished: 23rd
Points: 2nd (-5)

What an un-Zesty finish for Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 Zest team!

Starting in seventh, Kenseth was on a mission and making ground steadily passing cars to the front. Running in the top three for most of the race, Kenseth's chances at winning were erased when he was hit by Jimmie Johnson. (Johnson has said he had a tire go down, Kenseth's comments are below) The No. 17 pit crew got Kenseth back on track and still on the lead lap but the race never resumed due to the storms. Kenseth finished a disappointing 23rd and remains second in the points, just five points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“On that last restart, Turn one actually widened out pretty good and we took off,” commented Kenseth after the race. “The No. 2 car didn’t get going and I had a pretty good gap, so I crossed the line and was going to pull behind Jimmie (Johnson). When I pulled down to go behind him, I got a little draft and actually pulled up to his door and so I decided to race Jimmie through there and we went off into Turn one. I could hear his pipes and I wasn’t sure he had lifted yet. He drove in really, really far and spun out underneath me and I got wrecked. I am not mad at him, it is just that you race for the win and I thought I gave enough room down there. He drove in hard because he is racing for the win too. We are in a situation where we need to win some races too. You don’t mind if something happens, it is just a bummer when it takes you out after you are running top three all day and finish 23rd. That is very disappointing and it is hard to look at the bright spot in that, but it’s just part of it though.”

Carl Edwards, No. 99 Fastenal 
Stared: 17th
Finished: 7th
Points: 12th (-125) 

If you polled the garage of who would have liked to restart the race, I think Carl Edwards would have raised his hand first.

With a rain shortened race, Carl Edwards and new crew chief Chad Norris did not have much time to work on the No. 99 to adjust the loose conditions that were bothering the driver. Racing within the top 10, the crew made several adjustments to work on the handling and get Edwards in contention for the win. However, Mother Nature had another plan. Edwards finished the rain shortened Pennsylvania 400 in seventh and still in need of a win if he hopes to claim the wild card Chase berth.

“We needed another restart,” said Edwards. “It is too bad that the rain came when it did because we needed to keep racing. We had a really good car but got a poor restart on that last one which was the important start. The good news is that we were fast and Chad (Norris, crew chief) has done a really good job with the car and I am really looking forward to next week. I have never wanted to race so bad in my life. I want to be racing right now.”

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Pocono tragedy. 

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