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CUP: Roush Fenway Squad Beginning To Flex Muscle

Roush Fenway Racing is mounting up points the same way a technically skilled boxer does in the ring: By being consistent round after round after round, the team is positioning itself to win a heavyweight fight, or at least get into championship contention.

LINK > UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: Food City 500 - BRISTOL

In Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, RFR drivers Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively, making for another solid points day for the team.

Five races into the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Kenseth is second in points, just a single marker behind leader Kevin Harvick. Biffle is fourth, just 24 points back of the leader. More impressive, perhaps, is the fact that Kenseth and Biffle have each finished in the top 10 in every race this season, the only two drivers who have done so.

And despite his well-publicized run-in with Brad Keselowski, Edwards picked up seven spots in the standings on Sunday to move all the up to 13th in points.

The team clearly is on course to have an excellent season, even if it still has a little ways to go to catch the current heavyweight champ, four-time defending Sprint Cup title holder Jimmie Johnson.

But progress is being made. Sunday at Bristol, all three of the RFR drivers got to where they were by gambling on tires on the day’s final pit stops on Lap 485.

Biffle, Kenseth and Edwards took two tires each under that caution period, as did Tony Stewart, putting the four of them ahead of the day’s dominant car, Kurt Busch’s Penske Racing Dodge, and the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Johnson. Both Busch and Johnson took four fresh Goodyears, and in the end that was the difference.

Once the track went green, Biffle was able to lead a lap, but no one had anything for Johnson, who won for the third time in five races this season.

Still, the Roush drivers got excellent finishes and weren’t about to second-guess themselves after the fact.

“I didn’t make the (2-tire) call, (crew chief) Greg Erwin did, but I think it was the right one,” said Biffle. “Yeah, we could go back and do it over again with four and see what that does, but this U.S. Census Ford Fusion was really, really fast. I was just too loose. If it would have been like I was earlier, or if the car had been driving like it normally did, I think I could have held them off – I really do – but I was just so loose I couldn’t put the power down. The back end was sliding.”

“I’m really happy with how we finished,” said Kenseth. “I’m kind of surprised we had that last caution. I thought that Kurt (Busch) had the best car. He was gonna win the race and I feel like he probably got one taken from him, but it was a good race. It was crazy. We didn’t run very good, but we made some good adjustments and had great pit stops and came up with a good result.”

And in the end, the bottom line is where you finish, not necessarily how you ran all day, as Edwards would attest.

“Yeah, we were pretty good on long runs, but we just didn’t get any because we were having the tire trouble,” said Edwards, who escaped his first race of three on NASCAR probation without incident. “So right about when the car would really start going there would be a caution. I learned a lot. We weren’t very good and then we got real good at the end, so that was good.”

Good, indeed. Not great, yet. But good. And five races into the season, good is an awfully good place to be right about now.

LINK > UNOFFICIAL RESULTS: Food City 500 - BRISTOL

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEEDtv.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.