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Roush looks to turn medicore Pocono finish to Michigan domination

By admin | June 11, 2009

By Richard Allen

In the middle sections of last week’s Pocono 500 it looked like things could not possibly go any better for Roush Fenway Racing. RFR drivers led every lap between 79 and 139. For much of the 500 mile event Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth raced at the front of the pack.

Unfortunately, there is no real reward for running in the Top 5 during the middle stages of a race.

In the end, the Pocono 500 turned into a fuel mileage stretch run and the RFR boys were either unable to make it to the end or unable to outrun eventual winner Tony Stewart in conservation mode.

Despite having what might well have been the three strongest cars in the field, Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth had to settle for 2nd, 11th and 16th respectively. Jamie McMurray, who also led briefly, added a 13th place finish for RFR.

While exiting pit road after his final stop Kenseth summed up what had to have been a team’s worth of frustration over his in-car radio. “We’re gonna take a 3rd place car and finish 20th with it,” he said, underestimating his finishing position just a bit.

This week the Sprint Cup Series will visit a location that has often been kind to RFR campaigners. Having had such strong cars in Pocono must give these drivers and crews a great deal of confidence coming to a track where they have won so often.

If ever there was a place for RFR to ‘get right’ it would be the Michigan International Speedway. Over the years, RFR cars have won 11 times on the 2 mile track. Those 11 wins are the most for this organization on any speedway.

Roush’s cars have also earned 43 Top 5s and 79 Top 10s in the Irish Hills. Again, that is more than the organization has had at any other facility.

It means more than just trophies and money for Jack Roush to visit victory lane at MIS. For one thing, this track is in the backyard of the ‘Big Three’ U.S. auto makers. Roush has been a Ford man for many years and he realizes the importance of winning so close to the factory.

Also, part of the Roush organization is headquartered in nearby Livonia, Michigan. This is an opportunity for some of that company’s employees to see their products in action firsthand.

This year, with the perils of the auto industry and the fact that RFR has won only two races so far, and those were the first two races of the season, winning at MIS may be more important than ever for this organization.

Roush Fenway Racing’s cars ran well in Pocono but, for the most part, did not get the results they would have liked. History says this week should turn out much better for this team.

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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