Two poles, two wins and all four Roush-Fenway teams logging top-seven finishes in Texas leaves little doubt, Jack is back. After a disappointing 2010 campaign, plagued by technology issues, it certainly appears the ship has been righted at Ford’s largest NASCAR stable.
The weekend started with a bang for Roush-Fenway’s David Ragan who bested the field in qualifying, putting his No. 6 Ford on the pole for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series shootout under the lights. Things only got better for the team who attributes much of its success to Ford’s new engine.
The night, however, belonged to 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, Matt Kenseth. The Wisconsin native broke a 76-race winless streak in convincing fashion, leading 169 of the 334 lap event. Kenseth donned the traditional Stetson while brandishing the double revolvers at the Fort Worth facility for the first time since 2002. The win was Kenseth’s 19th of his career and first since 2009.
“Yeah, it feels good to get back to Victory Lane,” said Kenseth post-race. “It’s been a long time.”
Kenseth wasn’t alone in his success this weekend, as teammate Carl Edwards, battling a stomach condition, soldiered home in third, giving him the series points lead. Two-time Kansas Speedway winner, Greg Biffle, who entered Saturday’s race in 20th position collected a much needed fourth-place finish, boosting him two spots to 18th in the standings. Rounding out the team’s weekend sweep was David Ragan, finishing a season high seventh.
“Well, I’m very proud of what we’ve been able to do in 2011,” said Jack Roush, team co-owner, after the race. “You know, we tuned up our engineering program with Ford’s help over the winter and we got a new Ford nose. So all of that is going well.”
Spoiling a bid for a Roush only podium finish was second-place finisher and Kansas native, Clint Bowyer, who saved his No. 33 Chevy during late race contact with Brian Vickers. “It was dirt tracking at its best, in the middle of the straightaway,” said Bowyer.
The story was much the same in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Friday night. Columbia, Mo. native Carl Edwards led the field to green and rarely looked back. Leading all but 31 laps of the event, Edwards went on to claim his 30th Nationwide Series win and the first for Ford’s Mustang.
NASCAR veteran and 2011 Nationwide series regular, Elliott Sadler posted the best finish for points earning drivers with a fifth place drive. Points leader, Ricky Stenhouse, another Roush-Fenway driver, led five laps of the event and holds on to the series points lead, stretching his advantage over Jason Leffler to 14 markers.
Both series will pack up and head east to take on NASCAR’s longest track, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Historically one of his best tracks, can Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally break through and snap his 100 race winless streak? Tune in Sunday to find out.
Kansas Speedway will host the first of two Sprint Cup races this year on Sunday, June 5th. The series will be joined by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on June 4 for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250. The Nationwide Series will be in action on Saturday, October 8th for the running of the Kansas Lottery 300, followed by the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway Cup event on Sunday, October 9th.
Tickets for all Kansas Speedway events are on sale now and are available by calling 866.460.RACE or by visiting www.kansasspeedway.com. As always, parking is free and race fans are welcome to bring a 14x14x14-inch soft-sided cooler into the grandstands with their favorite food and beverages.