Monday, October 24, 2011

RCR Claims 100th Victory: Roush-Yates 1 and 2 In The Chase

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – Richard Childress must have really enjoyed Sunday afternoon. Two of his drivers, Clint Boyer and Jeff Burton were well ahead of the pack at Talladega when it counted – on the last lap. I guess he may have gotten a little nervous as Burton tried to side-draft Bowyer making slight contact. It would have been something had the two contacted hard and spun out! But in the end, Mr Childress not only received the 100th race victory for RCR, he also got 101 as Bowyer finished 0.18 sec ahead of his teammate. “I wasn’t going to put him in a position to wreck us,” Bowyer said. “I have a ton of respect for Jeff Burton. He was still going to have a shot at it. Starting the move that early was going to give him a shot at it. It was probably a pretty risky move on my part. He wasn’t expecting it. I felt like it was an opportunity to catch him off guard, but it about bit me in the butt, too.”

But it wasn’t roses for everyone at RCR as Kevin Harvick, the only RCR driver in The Chase was caught up in a crash putting him nine laps down at the end of the race, and dropping 3 positions in the Chase. “It may have cost us the championship,” lamented Richard Childress, “We may have been able to ride in the back and wait it out, but that wasn’t what Kevin wanted to do. We had all of our sponsors here today. That just isn’t what we wanted to do.” Draft-partners, Dave Blaney and Brad Keselowski finished the race in third place and forth place with Vickers rounding out the top five.

Anticipation is high at the Blue Oval with two Fords running high in the Chase. They want to be sure that Carl Edwards or Matt Kenseth claim the championship this year. It’s been a long time since 2004 when Kurt Busch won the championship for Ford. To that end, Ford let it be known that there would be no tandem-drafting with cars from other manufacturers. It made for a couple of awkward moments as when Trevor Bayne had to leave Jeff Gordon to hook-up with Matt Kenseth after Dave Ragan’s car broke. Kenseth and Ragan were running in the top ten all day with Kenseth leading 21 laps of the race. But after the restart with only two laps to go, something in Ragan’s engine blew leaving Kenseth stranded without a drafting partner. Bayne then ditched Gordon to help Kenseth. It was too little too late as Kenseth could do no-better than 18th. All was not terrible though as the 18th place finish was good enough to move him up one spot in the Chase.

Some of the fans are showing disappointment with the Ford orders. To defuse some of the displeasure, Bayne commenting on his Twitter account after the race, said he also was displeased with how the finish unfolded. “I'm not happy about what this has become,” Bayne wrote. “It's too premeditated. We should be able to go with whoever is around. I would have rather pulled over and finished last than tell [Gordon] I would work with him and then be strong armed into bailing.” Kenseth also commented that he did nothing to strong-arm Bayne. Kenseth posted on his Twitter account: “Some of you are wound tight. I am frustrated also and didn’t invent this silly two car tandem shove thing. I would much rather race!”

Carl Edwards remains in the top Chase spot with Roush-Yates teammate Matt Kenseth moving up to second place. With Brad Keselowski’s strong finish this week moves him up to 3rd place. Tony Stewart is currently in fourth and Kevin Harvick in fifth place. Can Ford hold on for four more races?

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