Commentary

Roush Fenway Racing riding high

TMS efforts by Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards highlight team's success on 1.5-mile ovals

Updated: April 10, 2011, 9:06 AM ET
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Not even an upset stomach or a wayward bird could stop Carl Edwards from finishing third in the Samsung Mobile 500 and taking over the Sprint Cup points lead.

That's how well things are going for Roush Fenway Racing these days. The team celebrated on Victory Lane with Matt Kenseth, who had the most dominant car at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night. It was the second win for Roush Fenway at a 1.5-mile oval this season. Is that a precursor to Jack Roush and his famous hat showing up with a championship trophy at the end of the 2011 season? His team has to be considered the favorite. Half of the Chase races come at 1.5-mile tracks such as TMS and Las Vegas, where Edwards won earlier this year.

"Our cars are good right now," said Edwards, who won the Nationwide race at TMS on Friday. "We're enjoying it. We just have to keep it going."

[+] EnlargeMatt Kenseth
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesWinner Matt Kenseth (front) and Greg Biffle represented two of Roush Fenway Racing's four top-seven finishers at TMS on Saturday.
The results from the first Cup race under the lights in Texas showed four Roush Fenway Racing Fords in the top seven. That included Kenseth's first victory since the second race of the 2009 season, ending a 76-race drought. Edwards finished third, Greg Biffle fourth and David Ragan seventh.

Edwards was pleased with his showing considering that he said the team didn't have quite the right package on the car, he hit a bird during the race -- "when you're sponsored by a duck, it's not good to do that" -- and felt his stomach turning as he turned the wheel at more than 200 mph Saturday.

"I'm hopped up on Pepto-Bismol," Edwards said shortly after the race. "I don't want to throw my mom under the bus, but she cooked something last night that I don't think was too good. I feel good now."

A third-place finish, not to mention medicine, helped calm Edwards' stomach. So did the knowledge that crew chief Bob Osborne can talk with Kenseth's crew chief Jimmy Fennig to find out exactly what setup the race winner had and can apply it to future tracks.

"Matt and those guys are running like they should be, and the great thing is that we know what he's got under there," Edwards said.

Roush Fenway Racing struggled in 2010 until showing improvement late in the season. Clearly, they've figured out what it takes to succeed at the 1.5-mile ovals. Kenseth was near the lead all day. From the moment the green flag dropped, he had plenty of horsepower, and he and his team avoided mistakes.

Edwards, who started one row ahead of Kenseth, was inconsistent at times as they tried to figure out the handling of the car. But Edwards kept driving and finished just one spot below where he started.

Biffle, who has a solid track record at TMS (including two wins, in spring 2000 and 2005), moved up thanks in part to solid work in the pits.

Edwards Our cars are good right now. We're enjoying it. We just have to keep it going.

-- Carl Edwards on Roush Fenway Racing
But the night belonged to Kenseth, who fired off the guns in Victory Lane, a Texas tradition and something he hasn't done since the Chase race at TMS in November 2007. Kenseth has had a history of runner-up finishes in Texas, losing late in races.

"It feels good to have the night that we had with such a dominant car and to get the win," Kenseth said.

Roush celebrated with Kenseth and reflected on his organization's early-season success.

"I'm really proud of what we've been able to do in 2011," said Roush, crediting the new noses on the Fords and an improved engine program.

Now that Edwards has the points lead, the challenge will be for the team to keep winning races and stay out in front of the standings. They'll try to do that starting next weekend at always-unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway.

Richard Durrett covers motor sports for ESPNDallas.com.

Richard Durrett joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He writes about colleges, the Dallas Stars and the Texas Rangers. Richard spent nine years at The Dallas Morning News covering the Rangers, Stars, colleges, motorsports and high schools.

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