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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kyle Busch’s engine woes continue at MIS; Fords start strong but can't seal the deal -- again

BROOKLYN, Mich -- It was a weekend to forget at Michigan International Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing, with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano wrecking and Kyle Busch suffering engine woes.

Most concerning are Busch’s engine issues, as this is the third straight week something like this has happened. Well, not exactly, as ever time the issue has been different. That is even more frustrating for a team, as it’s not the same issue reoccurring so a simple fix won’t work.

Kyle Busch has tremendous talent, but until the team can give him cars that can compete week in and week out without fears of issues like this, he won’t win a Cup title. It’s that simple, so this should be the No. 1 concern right now in the Gibbs garage.

Fords start strong, can’t close deal at MIS
Every year when I go to MIS, I expect the Fords to run fast. And they do, problem is they can’t seal the deal lately.

They last won in August of 2008, that’s a long time for a track known as the House of Roush.

Sunday at MIS, Biffle and Kenseth were strong early, then Dale Jr. took over. That kind of scenario has been a theme lately at MIS, and the Roush guys might need to start thinking longer term with their setups in the future if they want to get back to Victory Lane in August.

Road course weekend

Between Road America and Sonoma, it’s going to be a great weekend for road course racing NASCAR fans. I know there are whiners who hate this kind of racing, but get used to it is what I say. This shows who is truly a great driver. All the best have done well on road courses, because they are more versatile and skilled overall. Whoever wins this weekend at both tracks will have earned it, as both places are challenging to race on.

I’ll pick Marcos Ambrose at Sonoma, and Ron Fellows at Road America. And I’d like to see the Fro himself, Boris Said, do well this weekend too.

Blaney gets top 25 at Michigan

For a smaller team, a top-25 can be a good run. That’s the case with Tommy Baldwin Racing, and they got a 25th-place run.

“We had a really good day,” explained Blaney. “We achieved our goal of a solid finish to help keep us in the top-35. The car was pretty good all day. We struggled a little with a tight condition and looking for some more grip, but all in all, it was a good day. The track was obviously fast when we got here on Thursday. The replacement tire definitely slowed down the pace and made it a bit more challenging to drive. We kept our nose clean, and the crew made some good adjustments to finish in the top-25.”

Ambrose will race for a miracle at Sonoma
There will be a lot of folks rooting for Ambrose this weekend, for a unique reason.

If Marcos Ambrose takes the win at Sonoma, his sponsor Stanley will donate $1 million to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals to benefit sick and injured children.
Beyond that amount,Stanley has already pledged $100,000 to the program and has donated over $500,000 since the inception of this partnership. As part of the special week of events, Ambrose, crew chief Todd Parrott and members of the #9 Stanley pit crew will visit the UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, Calif., on Thursday, June 21.

Ambrose said it would be extra special to win due to the help this money would bring.
“There’s nothing like added pressure, of course and to win a race and $1 million for sick kids is definitely up there on the stakes of just trying to win the race. We did this last year and came up a little bit short, so I’m doubly determined this year to try and win the race and help those kids and help our race team see the success that we all hoped. Regardless, Stanley, ACE Hardware, and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are going to donate $100,000 toward these kids. We’ve got a huge effort this weekend to raise awareness for them and shed a bit of sunshine on their day. They’re having a tough time, so we’re gonna go to a children’s hospital on Thursday and bring a race car out there and do some pit stops for them, and we’ve got some carnival activities to give them a bit of fun and try to forget about why they’re in the hospital in the first place.”

Ambrose is a road course specialist, but he said he doesn’t necessarily feel any extra pressure to win because of his road course background.

“The expectation of me succeeded at a road course race is obviously very high, but that doesn’t change. I’m driving the No. 9 Stanley Ford Fusion for Richard Petty to win every race and not just two road course races, so I apply myself the same every week. The pressure is not much different, it’s just the weight of expectations this weekend and at Watkins Glen – the expectation of success is what we have to balance out. I can’t change the way I drive. I’ve got to just keep doing my best out there and if I do my job well, and the team does its job well, we know we’re gonna be a contender for the race win.”

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