By admin | March 1, 2009
By Richard Allen
Things could hardly have started off better for the Ford Motor Company in 2009, in NASCAR that is. Ford driver Matt Kenseth began the season on fire by winning the first two races, including the prestigious Daytona 500.
However, Las Vegas is a town known for bringing those on a hot streak back down to Earth. For the most part that is exactly what happened to both Kenseth and Ford on Sunday in the Shelby 427 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The hottest Ford driver of all, Kenseth, was the first to feel the sting of Ford’s troubles. The race had barely started when the pilot of the #17 machine radioed to his crew that the engine was sour. Shortly after the car was making a hard left turn into the garage area being trailed by a cloud of smoke. Kenseth finished last.
It looked as though Ford might still be able to make a good day of it. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan seemed to have strong runs going, but one by one they each had gremlins to take their toll.
Ragan blew an engine after just 72 laps. He finished just one position ahead of Kenseth.
Biffle ran near the front all day. But in the race’s latter stages he began to notice ‘surges’ in his engine. However, his motor was able to hold together and because of the crazy way the race played out he held on for an 8th place result.
Edwards looked like a certain Top 5 finisher as the race restarted for the final time with less than five laps to go. But again, the engine bug bit. His car erupted in a cloud of smoke and he was relegated to a 17th place finish.
On the bright side for Ford, Bobby Labonte, who along with his #96 team is new to the Ford camp, scored a season’s best 5th place finish for the joint effort between Hall of Fame Racing and Yates Racing.
Jamie McMurray was able to come home 9th in his Ford.
Before the Shelby 427, Ford had four drivers inside the coveted Top 12 led by Kenseth. One of those drivers, Ragan, dropped out after the points were tabulated following the race. But, of course, it is still much too early to be overly concerned with points.
Coming into Sunday’s race it was Toyota that had concern in regard to their engines. As it turned out, Toyota won the race with driver Kyle Busch and Ford suffered engine woes to some of its top competitors. As the saying goes, “He who is first shall be last”, or something like that.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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