On Sunday, the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season will conclude with the running of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick are the only three drivers with a shot at the championship.
But in six of the last eight seasons, this race has been won by a Roush Fenway Racing Ford, and if recent weeks are any indication, there could be a repeat this weekend.
Last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards won both the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup races, and on the Cup side he also qualified on the pole and was fastest in all three practices.
The week prior to that, his teammates had a big day at Texas Motor Speedway, as Matt Kenseth finished second and Greg Biffle ended the day fifth when a broken transmission slowed him after leading the most laps. Biffle followed that up with a fourth-place finish at PIR, his third top five in the last five races.
So without question, the Roush Fenway squad should be a major factor this weekend. Edwards leads the team in the points standings, as he’s ranked fourth, one slot ahead of Kenseth and four up on eighth-place Biffle.
All three of the Roush drivers in the top 10 in points are pleased to be ending the season on a strong note, especially given that they’ve made major performance gains of late.
“I’m really happy, especially after what we did at Texas,” said Biffle, who won three straight Homestead races from 2004-06. “We led 230-some laps. We had the fastest car there, by far, from the green flag to the checkered flag. Nobody was gonna beat us and to end the season like that with three races to go, that is a whole lot of confidence for this team for next year, knowing that we run that good and were that dominating. It’s not very often this season that we’ve seen a car do that the entire race and not even get recognition for it because of all the things that happened at the race track. But we’re proud of our team for how fast of a race car we brought and how much we’ve learned this season that we can apply to next year.”
Although Edwards is out of championship contention, he still wants to finish as high in points as he can. And with just 85 points separating fourth from eighth place, a good run on Sunday will be critical.
“I’m like anyone else, I have goals and I have to work towards a goal,” said Edwards. “Right now, our goal is to finish fourth in points and it’s a battle. You’ve got Kyle (Busch), Jeff (Gordon), Matt Kenseth, myself and we’ve all been running about the same speed. It’s just a heck of a race for that fourth position and those top three guys have kind of run off and hid. I know for me there’s a lot of pride in finishing fourth.”
Kenseth, the 2007 Homestead winner, likes the layout of the 1.5-mile track.
“Homestead is pretty unique the way they reconfigured the track,” he said. “We only go there once a year, so it’s always a little bit of a surprise when you get there with what you’re gonna have in your car or how your car is gonna handle because of how much the track has changed in 12 months. It’s one of those tracks where you have to be pretty good in the middle and pretty good on the top as well and be able to run up there and use the banking. It’s a lot like a lot of other mile-and-a-halfs, the things you need to be successful there, but yet the track is a really unique layout.”
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.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.