News & Media


Roush Fenway feeling fine as Cup tackles Texas

April 12, 2012, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle have run up front at night already this season. They're hoping it happens again Saturday. (Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Greg Biffle didn't even have to think when he was asked if Texas Motor Speedway was the perfect place to come back after the season's first off weekend.

"For me, absolutely the perfect place," Biffle said. "I've always loved this track. Here and Kansas are two good tracks for us to come back to, off a break -- especially after Martinsville, because we felt like we ran pretty decent and deserved better than a 13th-place finish."

"I look forward to coming here, one [because] I like this race track. It's kind of like any other place, but here we feel like we have a little pep in our step, as far as how good we run."

--GREG BIFFLE

That allowed Biffle to maintain the points lead he's had for the past four race weekends, with Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards fourth and 11th, respectively. Texas, where Biffle has seven consecutive top-10 finishes and a win in 2005, is coming along at the perfect time for his Roush Fenway organization, which was the only organization to have more than one car in the top 10 in Thursday's Cup practice -- in fact placing all three of its entries there.

"I look forward to coming here, one [because] I like this race track," Biffle said. "It's good for us but I think the mindset is, 'How are we gonna win?' It's kind of like any other place, but here we feel like we have a little pep in our step, as far as how good we run.

"It's a matter of concentrating on getting the car to drive really good, and then playing scenarios through your mind of how the race is gonna be and what it's gonna come down to -- handling and track position and things like that."

Kenseth won this race in 2011, has been in the top four in his past three starts and has 11 top-10 finishes in his past 13 starts here -- including track records for top-five (10) and top-10 finishes (13). He ended up seventh in Thursday's practice.

"Sometimes you run better at some tracks more than others and you don't always know why," Kenseth said. "I don't really know why but it has been a pretty good track for us in the past. Until we get deeper in the season I am not really sure, but the bulk of the schedule is the mile-and-a-half tracks and you've gotta be good to have success."

Edwards was second and third in his two 2011 Texas races and he swept the track in 2008, with three Cup wins in all.

Biffle jumped into the second spot in his opening run in Thursday's lone two-hour practice and ended up there, trailing only Mark Martin after running 40 laps. Biffle said Roush Fenway's intermediate track program was "pretty good" in 2012. But he added that achieving the fraction-of-seconds gain he and his teammates need won't be easy.

"We ran good at Vegas -- we finished third -- but to be perfectly honest with you, I was a little disappointed," Biffle said. "Because the 48 [Jimmie Johnson] and the 14 [race winner Tony Stewart] were a fair amount faster than us, and that was just a little bit discouraging, [knowing] that we've got a little bit of work to do [because] you always want to be the fastest.

"I'd say our program is pretty damned good, but we recognize that it's not easy. We used to go to those [intermediate] places and pretty much thought we had a handle on it. But competition just keeps getting tougher and tougher."

Biffle said the most maddening thing is, with the current car, teams need to make minute changes in an attempt to improve, and when it comes to splitting hairs, it's not hard to go in the wrong direction.

"Absolutely," Biffle said, shaking his head. "You're choosing between a shock or a bump-stop package or a spring or a track-bar split or a height -- and it's just so close and you never know what the track's going to be like."

Biffle said Thursday's practice, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. local time, was little help in determining what the temperature or grip level would be like, or if the fast lane would be on the top or bottom of the track.

"You just don't know until you get there," Biffle said, laughing. "Nothing will give you an idea, even if it was the exact same time, until you're there -- and then it's too late. You've got what you've got and you just have to hope that you've predicted correctly and that you can adjust around to the conditions.

"That's part of racing, and there's that unknown factor, all the time."

But what's a known factor is how RFR has excelled at this fast, 1.5-mile facility. Between the Cup and Nationwide series, Roush has 16 Texas wins.

"We would like to get a fourth [Cup] win," Edwards, who was 10th in practice, said. "We've run really well at these mile-and-a-half [tracks]. When you win at Texas it's always exciting, and Saturday night racing is a lot of fun."

And Kenseth, who on Wednesday had a belated celebration in Daytona Beach, Fla., for his Daytona 500 win in February, said that a good finish Saturday night is different from what a good finish two weeks ago would have been.

"You want to try to overachieve every week and take whatever you are given and get at least the finish where your car performed, or hopefully better," Kenseth said. "That is what helps you at the end of the day with points.

"I guess, if you go to a place like Martinsville, which is one of our worst tracks and you get a top-10 or top-five, you feel like that is a win. If you go to a place where you've had success and left here maybe eighth, you might feel defeated. [At Martinsville] we would have felt good about it. It changes your expectations a little bit and what you are satisfied with and not satisfied with."