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Rough day for the Fords at Dover

September 30, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Rough day for the Fords at Dover
Biffle, Kenseth see Chase title hopes go up in flames at Dover

DOVER, Del. -- Greg Biffle's frustration level was evident on the radio.

Matt Kenseth's frustration level was evident on the taped-up left-front corner of his Ford Fusion.

Both Ford Chase hopefuls endured catastrophic results in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway, all but extinguishing their title hopes three races into the Chase.

It wasn't supposed to be this way.

Biffle was the Sprint Cup points leader before the points were reset to reflect victories prior to the Chase. His car was the fastest in Friday's first practice session at Dover. His pit crew had just been honored as third-quarter recipients of Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew honors, voted upon quarterly by Sprint Cup crew chiefs.

"In two out of three Chase races something either fell off or broke, so obviously that's not good. Our performance hasn't been very good, either."

--MATT KENSETH

Kenseth was the Daytona 500 winner, also running among the points leaders throughout the season's first 26 races.

But the first three races of the Chase have been a whole new world and a cruel one at that.

Biffle had a top-10 car near the midway point of Sunday's race when his tire changer failed to get his right front wheel tight on a pit stop. Falling three laps down, he eventually finished 16th and dropped from from ninth to 11th in the Chase standings, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski.

Kenseth was having a mediocre day, running 14th. But his afternoon got a whole lot worse with 92 laps left when he dropped his rear track bar. Crashing his car after a brief return to the track, he headed to the garage, relegated to a 35th-place finish that left him dead-last in the Chase, 72 points behind the leader.

Video: Rear suspension issues cripple the No. 17

After losing it on the radio in the heat of the moment, Biffle was cool and collected following the race.

"Everybody's trying hard," he said. "The wheel wouldn't be loose if the guy wasn't trying to [change] it as fast as he could."

Biffle was most frustrated that his team took the time to change left-side tires on the same stop.

"[The tire changer] knew the right-front was loose and they came over and did the lefts anyway. I don't know why," Biffle said. "That cost us an extra lap on the race track. ... We gave up an extra 6, 8, 10 points maybe on losing one more lap changing the lefts. That's frustrating when you're inside the car."

Biffle, no better than 13th in any of the Chase's first three races, has known similar frustration.

"It happened to us in 2005, right toward the end of the Chase, and it cost us the title. I don't think that loose wheel today is gonna cost us the championship. We were off a little bit. But we were definitely a top-10 car -- probably a top-eight, especially with the way it ended up [with leaders forced to pit for fuel.]"

Championship on the line or not, Biffle grasped the grim reality of his numbers situation.

"That really takes us out of the title hunt," he said.

Kenseth, who entered the weekend 35 points out of first place, has fared even worse, finishing no better than 14th in any Chase race.

"In two out of three Chase races something either fell off or broke, so obviously that's not good," he said. "Our performance hasn't been very good, either."

"[Sunday] was a struggle. This is probably the worst we've run here for as long as I can remember. We just really missed it. From the first lap on the track to the last lap on the track we were pretty much junk. Everybody is trying hard, but we just missed it."

Roush Fenway's top finisher Sunday was Carl Edwards, who started 15th and came from a lap down to finish fifth.

"We didn't deserve to finish that far forward, but we had some lucky breaks and my guys did a good job on pit road," Edwards said. "It seemed like a lot of us from Roush Fenway struggled and we've got to go back and understand exactly what we're missing.

"I feel bad for Matt and Greg, 3M and all the guys at Ford, for them not having a good run, but it was a good day for us and, hopefully, we can build on this for next spring to come to Dover and win."