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Sticktoitiveness paying off for Biffle, Roush, Ford
3 August 2010
Sunday's victory for Greg Biffle in the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway was more than a routine win for the driver and his No. 16 team.
In fact, there was nothing routine about it.
It was a monumental victory for Ford as a manufacturer and an inspirational triumph for car owner Jack Roush of Roush Fenway Racing. That would have been the case -- admittedly to a much lesser extent -- even if Roush hadn't sat watching Sunday from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he continues to be treated for facial and eye injuries suffered in a plane crash last week in Oshkosh, Wis.
No one wheeling a Ford had visited Victory Lane all season. Biffle had not done so since winning the first two races in the Chase in 2008, so he broke a personal 64-race winless streak.
For Roush, the frustration clearly had been mounting as this 36-race season approached and then passed the halfway mark without any of his boys able to find the power necessary in the Roush Fenway cars to get the job done. Sunday's race was the 21st points event of the season, leaving just five races remaining before the 2010 Chase commences.
Prior to Sunday, the last Roush Fenway driver to win was Jamie McMurray at Talladega near the end of last season. By then McMurray's foot already had been pushed more than halfway out the organization's door as it scrambled to shed one team to comply with NASCAR's retroactive four-car limit mandate.
To get to the last Roush Fenway victory by someone still employed by the organization, you have to go all the way back to Matt Kenseth's back-to-back wins to open the 2009 season -- 54 races ago.
"I have to tell you that when it got to be five to go I started thinking about it. I started thinking that this race was meant to be," Biffle said afterward. "It's for Jack -- and then I thought about all the time I've spent with the Ford people and how desperate they are to prove that they've got a good product. They've got great cars and trucks, but they want to improve on the race track; they want to win. ... I just thought, 'This is gonna be a great day if I can complete this thing.'"
Reasons to celebrate
Roush's handprints were all over Sunday's winning effort, even as he squirmed in his hospital bed more than 1,000 miles away. Jamie Allison, director of Ford North America Motorsports, said as much after the race.
"Greg Biffle earned this one. That was no fluke," Allison said. "I just talked to Jack on the phone and there's no question this is a great, feel-good moment for him that takes away a little of the physical pain he's been feeling this week. So this win is for Jack first and Ford second.
"I've said all along that the road to victory is paved with second- and third-place finishes, and we've had plenty of those the last five weeks. We knew we were getting better. We could see it, and we had to be running good enough to be in position to win. ... Everyone has played a part of getting us here by working together to make the program better. It has truly been a [united] Ford effort at the root of it all, but there's a lot of Jack Roush's spirit behind it all, as well." (Continued)
It was the first win for Roush's organization in a car using the "new" FR9 engine -- the motor that was unveiled by Roush himself at a news conference way back in January 2009 but one that his teams dared not use with any regularity until only recently.
Upon its initial unveiling, Roush touted it as the engine of the future for his teams. But he also admitted then and repeatedly as time progressed that the old Ford engine was durable and reliable and was going to be just fine for the time being, which eventually became much longer of a time frame than even he envisioned.
Now the engine and the rest of the Ford racing package at Roush Fenway appears to be bearing fruit at just the right time. Despite the lack of wins this season, Biffle heads into the final five-race stretch prior to the Chase as one of three drivers whose paychecks are signed by Roush who remain in the all-important top 12 in the point standings.
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