Edwards finished fourth and moved to third in the points standings; 10 points out of first, while Kenseth – despite winning the pole and leading 46 laps – finished 21st after running short on fuel. He is currently 11th in the standings; 24 points out, but still in more than viable contention.
“Matt winning the pole and leading as much as he did to start the Chase did not surprise me at all," said team co-owner Jack Roush. “We were not happy with the finish, but the effort is exactly what you would expect from Matt and that No. 17 team. The team has been together a long time and they won’t panic. They are very mature and very capable.
“Matt is very much like David Pearson used to be back when he was driving for the Wood Brothers," added Roush. “He’s very inclined to give you the last pound of effort and the last inch of productivity that he has and those traits will serve him well as he continues through the Chase and continues with the pursuit of his second Cup championship."
Edwards, who led the Sprint Cup standings for the majority of the 2011 ‘regular’ season, led 39 laps on Monday and will look to build on that this weekend.
“For Carl and the No. 99 team to get started the way they did was great," said team general manger Robbie Reiser, who as a crew chief guided Roush Fenway to its first Cup championship in 2003. “Carl led the points for most of the season and that team has been very strong in the last two races. I think you’ll see that again this week at Loudon."
Roush added that his team has never been in better shape for a run at the title, but cautioned that with today’s parity in NASCAR it will not be an easy task.
“Roush Fenway as a group has never had better cars," said Roush, who has won five NASCAR championships. “The cars have never been better driven and we’ve never had better sponsors. We have also never had better prospects with the engineering support, and our manufacturing support with Ford is at an all-time high.
“At the same time, with the way the rules are set up today, they have made every effort to create a scenario that would have 10 cars competing on the last lap for the championship," added Roush. “So while we are at an all-time high, I don’t think we will see a dominant championship run like we had in 2003. I think it will be more like when we won it in 2004 and it came down to the last race with two or three teams set to determine the championship.
“Still, I look forward to our prospects this season and I would expect that we will go to New Hampshire this weekend and continue to run very competitively and stay firmly in the hunt for the Championship."