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Monday, December 12, 2011

Roush Fenway team had great success this year, and great disappointment

Before we get into the heartbreak segment of this entry, let’s talk positive.

Roush Fenway had a very good year, with Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. leading the way.

The numbers are very impressive:
Sprint Cup Series- 5 wins, 38 top fives & 64 top 10s
Nationwide Series- 2 wins, 45 top fives & 68 top 10s
— Roush Fenway Racing swept the 2011 Nationwide Series by winning both the drivers and owners championships. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claimed Roush Fenway's third NASCAR drivers Nationwide Series Championship and Carl Edwards In addition and Roush Fenway Ford to the manufacturer’s championship in the NNS Series.
— Carl Edwards and the No. 99 Aflac team closed out the season tied for the points lead and earned second place in the closest points finish in history. Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team finished fourth in the Chase point standings for the year.

Carl led the points most of the year, right up to the very end as a matter of fact. Cosidering their struggles a couple years back, it’s pretty amazing to see how far the team has come in such a short time.
Stenhouse was the feel-good story of the year, as he came from being almost fired last year to winning the title in 2011. He definitely has a future at Roush in a Cup car, and should do well in his career, which will be very long since he is so young.

But the moment everyone will remember from the Roush team in 2011 is how they had their best shot at a title and blew it, but Carl Edwards should not hang his head despite this failing. it was by no means due to lack of effort from him. Carl did great in the Chase, in fact he had the best average finish in the Chase’s history.
No, he didn’t screw up; he just got a little unlucky in the last race, with the pit calls working out in Tony Stewart’s favor, and he ended up tied. And he ran into the late-season hurricane that was Tony Stewart. The way Tony’s regular season went, no one could have predicted that he would win the title. But he shocked the world, and he shocked Carl Edwards. Ever the gentleman, Carl was gracious in defeat, congratulating Tony on the track after the Homestead race (Kurt and Kyle Busch could take a few lessons from this man.)

The only thing Carl, who was amazingly consistent, could have done better in 2011 is win more races (instead of just racking up top 5s and top 10s). After all, that’s what broke the tie and gave the title to Tony. You can bet next year, Carl will focus more on getting those Ws, now that he knows how much they can mean in a tight Chase.
I still think Carl will win a title someday, possibly even in 2012, as he is extremely talented and definitely would be deserving of the honor.

The rest of the bunch
Matt Kenseth ended up fourth in points, but never really contended for the crown. This is right within his area of expertise, doing well, just not well enough to be champ. He needs to get over that hump if he wants to be champ again.
Greg Biffle’s season in 2011, quite honestly, just stunk. Something needs to change on that team or 2012 could be more of the same.

And finally, the #6 car had a first-time winner in David Ragan, but unfortunately it didn’t lead them to an overall great year, and sponsorship fell through. This means that Ragan is likely going to Penske to replace Kurt Busch, and there will be only 3 full time teams for Roush in 2012. It’s probably for the better, as the team needs to focus its energy, and the three drivers are all talented enough to do great things if given the right equipment.

Looking ahead, I say Carl leads the way again. But if they can figure things out, the other guys will be nipping at his heels in 2012. That’s a big if though.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you serious? Kenseth never contended? At one point he pulled to within six points of leading the chase and was a definite factor until his run-ins with Vickers with four races to go. And his level of expertise is never quite getting there? He got there-has Junior? Harvick? Edwards? Kyle Busch?

December 13, 2011 at 11:46 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really?? Kenseth never contended? He would have won if Vickers was not in the series. My can you say that???

December 14, 2011 at 7:34 PM 

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