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Monday, March 7, 2011

Fords back contending … especially Carl Edwards

Not too long ago, the Fords were an afterthought on race weekend.
This year, building off a strong end to the 2010 season, things are starting to turn around for the blue oval.

They started off the year strong with a win by Trevor Bayne at Daytona – and impressive performance from the FR9 engines.

At Vegas, that positive performance continued – with the Fords claiming the top four spots in qualifying, and the weekend being capped with a win by Carl Edwards – his third in the past five races.

"This is an exciting win for Roush Yates Engines," said Doug Yates, CEO of Roush Yates Engines in Mooresville, NC. "We ran great all week long. I think this says a lot about our program and how we plan to run at 1.5 mile tracks throughout the 2011 season. I want to thank Ford again for their support as we continue to excel with the FR9 engine."

Edwards had praise for his team after the win at Vegas.
"The key to winning today was my team, my Ford team, these guys are unbelievable. I am having a blast.”

This resurgence goes to show – you can never count out a manufacturer , even if they’re having the kind of struggles Ford recently endured. Just as quickly as they faded away, the Ford teams have figured out how to win again and have a good shot – especially with Edwards – to contend for the Sprint Cup.

Big stars dig big holes in the points
Looking at the points, the biggest surprises aren’t up top, but down low. Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle and Joey Logano are all 30th or worse in points … pretty risky and unfamiliar territory for a trio of winning drivers who can do much better.

And with this new points system, it’s going to be harder for them to climb the points ladder, leaving the Chase a tough sell for these drivers – even though we’re only three races into the year. They’ll need consistency, and soon, to start that climb – and it won’t be easy to get to the Promised Land.

On the opposite spectrum, Paul Menard is solidly in the points. Heading into this year, many people wondered whether adding Menard as the fourth car would hurt the Richard Childress Racing organization.

Instead, he is far above all three of his teammates at RCR after three races, something nobody thought would happen. How ironic would it be if he made the Chase, but the other three did not (an unlikely scenario, but still very possible)

Wendell Scott honored at Vegas
This past weekend, the Cup and Nationwide drivers paid tribute to the legendary Wendell Scott, the only black driver ever to win at the Cup level.
Drivers had a commemorative decal on their cars this weekend celebrating the achievements of Scott, who had to face not only his competitors, but also blatant racism, as he tried to be a successful NASCAR driver.

Mar. 4 marked the 50th anniversary Scott’s first start at Spartanburg, S.C. in 1961, at Fairgrounds Speedway. Scott’s only win came at the one-mile dirt track in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 1, 1963. He beat Buck Baker by two laps at Jacksonville Speedway Park.

-- Scott competed in 495 starts posting 147 top-10 finishes.
-- His best season was 1966 when Scott competed in 45 races and finished sixth in the championship standings.
-- Scott posted top-10 championship finishes in four consecutive seasons (1966-69).
Scott died at age 69 in 1990.

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