Champion Tony Stewart will lead the 10-car field of championship
contenders into next week’s race at New Hampshire Int’l Speedway,
but he will certainly have his hands full holding off a juggernaut
of five Roush Racing drivers all vying for a shot at the title in
the Chase for the Nextel Cup.
Roush Racing swept the top three spots in last Saturday’s race, with
defending series champion Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle
finishing 1-2-3. Kenseth’s runner-up showing help him clinch a spot
in the Chase, joining teammates Busch, Biffle, Mark Martin and this
year’s surprise contender, Carl Edwards - all looking to give Roush
Racing its third title in three years.
Biffle will start the Chase second in the standings, followed by
Rusty Wallace, Jimmie Johnson, Busch, Martin, Jeremy Mayfield,
Kenseth and Ryan Newman.
The five-car Roush contingent – the “Ford Five” as they are being
called – also gives Ford an edge in the field over three Dodges and
Despite covering half the field in the Chase, team owner Jack Roush
doesn’t believe he has advantage over the other teams in the Chase.
"I'm in better shape with five (cars) than I would be with one,”
said Roush. “I think I'm in better with five than I would be with
four, unless somebody runs into somebody for reasons that aren't
good enough. I'm really excited about the prospect of taking this
group of five to the final 10 races here. I couldn't be prouder of
them for what they've done.
“I'm feeling that we've got five capable and able drivers driving
equipment that's organized through great engineering activity, that
pools their efforts and works real hard and administered by five
crew chiefs that hopefully know what they're doing. On any given
day, they've all demonstrated they can win. They've all won this
With five fiercely competitive teammates who are now adversaries
going for the same championship, Roush doesn’t expect his teams to
go out of their way to hurt one another’s chances.
“To this point, they've had the respect for me to not take one
another out by taking mindless chances around one another - where
they could do damage or reduce the prospects of success through some
misdeed of theirs,” said Roush.
“I expect them to race clean. I want to see the same race that the
fans do and the same race that our sponsors do. I want to see the
best of our drivers and the best of our programs win based on who
has the most luck and who executed the best strategy on the race
track with their crew chief.”
Kenseth, who brought home Roush Racing’s first championship in 2003,
believes all five teams will continue to work together no matter
what is at stake, but only to a point.
“I think the big thing is we're still gonna work the same during the
week and the teams are still gonna work the same during the week.
They're gonna work together,” said Kenseth. Everybody is still gonna
talk. They're still gonna share information.
“They're still gonna work together. Everybody is gonna do that, but
when you get on the track, yeah, you're not gonna do nothing to hurt
each other, but if you're gonna do something that might help Greg,
but it's gonna cost me, I'm not gonna do that and he's not gonna do
Biffle, too, says racing against teammates could be a disadvantage.
“I had fun racing with Matt tonight, but if that's for the
championship or for a potential five points towards winning the
title, it's gonna be harder to race with each other like that
because that spot is important,” said Biffle. “Naturally, he's gonna
try and race as hard as he can. I was turning. If he won't let me up
there and he chops down on me, then he won't do it again.”
Although only one can win the title, Busch believes as the Chase
comes down to the wire, if any of the teammates are out of the running
for the Cup they can ultimately help the ones who are.
“I believe early on it will definitely help us understand with the
extra testing, with the cars on the race track giving one another
extra room and to be able to know that that guy is in the chase,
it's definitely a great feeling,” Busch said. “As we get closer to
the end, let's just say six races, one or two might not be able to
have a shot at the championship, but their tests are still just as
“So, if we're out, we're gonna help the other guys. If Edwards falls
out or Kenseth, it's still gonna work even better into our hands
when we have five guys in the chase.”
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