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Roush-Fenway Fall Apart in Ford Country

Roush-Fenway Fall Apart in Ford Country

by June 18, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, Mich. — For the first time since the 2000 Kmart 400, Roush-Fenway Racing have failed to place one of their drivers in the top-10 at the Michigan International Speedway.

The trio of Roush-Fenway drivers did not even crack the top-15 as Greg Biffle would be the highest finishing RFR driver with his 20th-place finish. Carl Edwards would finish in 23rd – one lap off the lead – while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would finish 27th – two laps off of the lead. Biffle would be the last driver on the lead lap at the conclusion of the race. All three of Roush-Fenway’s teams would lack pace throughout the entire weekend as Hendrick-powered Chevrolets were the cars to beat in terms of pace throughout the entire weekend. Ford as a whole, however, would not be completely off the pace as Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano would both finish in the top-10 with Keselowski finishing in third.

Biffle would be the RFR organization’s frontrunner on Sunday, running consistently in the top-20 in the late stages of the race as his teammates would flounder about outside of the top-20. Biffle would crack the top-10 very briefly on Lap 130 but would drop out of it just as quickly as he broke into it. Biffle’s 20th-place finish would break the Vancouver, Washington’s streak of top-10 finishes at the two-mile oval that spanned across four consecutive races.

Stenhouse’s day would go south early as he would make contact with the wall attempting to avoid an accident between Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., and Kyle Larson on Lap 7, damaging the right-rear of his No. 17 EcoPower Oil Fusion. Stenhouse and his crew had the advantage of having their incident early, thus providing them with plenty of time to battle back into the race. After repairing the damage on the car, the team fought an uphill battle that had them struggling to advance beyond 30th-place during the first three quarters of the 400-mile event. Stenhouse would manage to wheel his car to 25th on Lap 150 before sliding back to his final 27th-place finishing position.

“This is the story of our season,” Stenhouse said. “I felt like our EcoPower Ford was going to be good but I got into the wall avoiding the accident and damaged the fender, which ruined our day. My guys never gave up and kept trying to fix our car. Next week we race our first road course this season so hopefully we can have a solid finish at Sonoma to turn our season around.”

Edwards’ day would not be marred with an accident like his younger teammate’s was, his struggles would come from an inability to properly balance the No. 99 Fastenal Fusion’s setup throughout the race as the track conditions changed. Edwards would break into the top-20 briefly on Lap 20 but would slide back shortly after, the driver of the No. 99 car would then fight his way back into the top-25 and would stay there for the rest of the day until he finished in 23rd.

“That was a big struggle,” Edwards said. “It was pretty tough, but we worked hard and didn’t quit. Fortunately, we have a win to get us in the Chase, but we’ve just got to get better as a group. That’s the way it is.”

After the conclusion of the Quicken Loans 400, Edwards and Biffle are the only two drivers in the Roush-Fenway stable who would be in the Chase if it started at the next race – Edwards by virtue of his win at Bristol and Biffle by being the sixth-highest non-winner in the points standings. Stenhouse is currently mired in 27th in the drivers’ standings heading into Sonoma.

The road courses have always provided some unexpected moments in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Roush-Fenway Racing have not won at Sonoma Raceway since Mark Martin won the 1997 event in the No. 6 car – RFR’s lone win at the winding circuit in California. Both Biffle and Edwards finished in the top-10 at Sonoma last year with Edwards finishing in third and will look to replicate their results from last year on Sunday. Stenhouse finished 27th in his maiden Sonoma Cup race last year and will run in Saturday’s K&N Pro Series West even to prepare for Sunday’s race.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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