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Friday, August 13, 2010

Fords, Roush team on a roll after rough start, hope to compete for title

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- The last time the NASCAR show rolled in into Michigan International Speedway, just two months ago, things were looking dire for the Ford teams, which were not up to par with their competitors.

An issue had been discovering regarding unreliability of its simulation program, and it was very possible that things weren’t going to end very well in 2010 for the Roush and Richard Petty teams.

Thankfully for those teams, that’s starting to change. The FR9 engine, which was just being phased in at that point, is now being used on all Fords and is performing admirably. Greg Biffle won a race at Pocono, and Carl Edwards has been knocking on the door of a win for the past month.

Biffle said Friday at MIS a lot of factors have contributed to the team’s rise this summer.
“We feel like we’ve got a front suspension geometry or model that’s running much better now, thanks to some help from the RPM guys and help from some of our Roush Fenway guys. They’re working really well together. That’s helped us,” he said. “The FR9 is in full swing. We’ve had a few issues, but they’re gone to the drawing board and really worked things out. The engine is running good. We know a litle bit about it and our cars have gotten better and our simulation is getting better as far as how the cars are racing and driving, so I think you’re gonna see us run well here.”

Carl Edwards, who has five straight top-7 finishes is the hottest Ford driver right now, and he said Friday that he is confident about the rest of the year.
“If we can run well the next several races, we can make the Chase. And if we can get any better, we can win the championship. Two or three months ago, I didn’t think that was the case.”

Even if he starts the Chase toward the bottom of the top-12, Edwards said a title is still possible due to the resetting of the points.
“You can definitely win the championship if you start in 9th, 10th or 11th. It’s so competitive, things happen so quickly. Definitely someone could win the title who’s not up there right now.”

The talk of a Ford resurgence is not just words, either. It’s not just words either, just a couple hours after saying he’d run well at MIS, Biffle went out and ran fastest in the first practice, with Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard and Matt Kenseth also running top-10. Roush has traditionally dominated at MIS, and it appears he may do so again this weekend.

If so, that would be a great present for an ailing Jack Roush, who was just released from the hospital after his recent plane crash and immediately came out MIS and was walking around the garage area Friday. The big news on the Roush front was that Jack has confirmed he has lost sight in his left eye as a result of the accident.

The bottom line is that Ford fans can breathe easier now, as it appears the shaky start to 2010 is a thing of the past, and the rest of the year will be a much happier time.

Whether they can topple Rick Hendrick is another question, but at least now it’s in the realm of possibility.

Busch says fast cars in short supply at Gibbs
Kyle Busch said Friday that the Joe Gibbs Racing team has only a handful of truly fast cars, and the rest are lacking.

“We’re trying to find some more cars that we know will be fast. We’re missing a little bit. There’s something that we just don’t have yet,” he said.

He said it’s frustrating because the cars built identically and test similarly in the wind tunnel, but once they hit the track only one car is his fleet is truly fast, and the rest can‘t run up front. He said it’s similar for both of his teammates.

On the opposite end of that, this year’s Mr. Consistent, Kevin Harvick, said all his cars are running strong.

“I don’t even know what car I’m in each week. I got out of that mode a long time ago. I haven’t driven a bad car all year.”

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