Roush Racing tries for Michigan sweep

August 14, 2007 8:57 AM
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This week’s NASCAR Nextel race visits Michigan for the second time this season.

The first race in the middle of June was won by Carl Edwards, making Roush Racing a victor for six straight seasons at Michigan. Since the Speedway is on the outskirts of Motor City, there are plenty of smiling executives patting Jack Roush on the back for his continued excellence on the manufacturers home track.

The Edwards win in June was only the second for Ford on the season up to that point. The other Ford victory was by another Roush guy, Matt Kenseth at California. Chevrolet has dominated the season in wins, but Roush has been the man to beat on the sister tracks of Michigan and California.

Both tracks are 2-mile, D-shaped ovals with wide sweeping turns that give drivers plenty of room. Michigan has slightly more incline in the turns making it a little faster. Other than that, they are as similar as any two tracks can be.

The unusual thing about the two results this year at Michigan and California is that there are only three drivers managing to finish in the top 10 for each race. We saw recently how similar track results and practices helped handicap both Pocono and Indy. Well, Michigan and California look vastly different on paper.

Along the same lines is Jimmie Johnson’s story at Michigan and California. The tracks are cousins, identical cousins. They look alike and run similar, however they couldn’t be more different to Johnson. The way his record supports it, they might as different as a road course and Talladega.

Johnson has a win and five top 5 finishes in nine starts at California, but at Michigan in 11 starts has no victories, one top 5 and a 16 average finish. That doesn’t sound the same, nor like something Johnson has done on any track, let alone one that should be identical. The one positive for Johnson at Michigan was this season when he led 56 laps at all stages of the race. He fell victim to fuel mileage and ran out of gas late. It would have been his best career Michigan run.

The one constant always between the two tracks has been Roush Racing. Matt Kenseth is the star driver now for Roush and he’s taken two wins on each track. He may have been in line for his third Michigan victory earlier this season, but got involved in a six-car accident sending him to a disappointing 42 finish. Before Kenseth it was Kurt Busch and prior to him Mark Martin. There has been lots of success for the Cat in the hat at the two tracks.

With all the troubles Ford is having financially in the public, the company executives can at least count on having something to smile about twice a year. They not only are happy to be winning, but they’re even more delighted that Chevy rarely visits the winner’s circle in Michigan. The last time a Chevy won at Michigan was Jeff Gordon in 2001.

The Fords may have a tougher time keeping a Chevy from doing burnouts this week because Tony Stewart is on one of his patented streaks. Stewart has won three of the last four races and doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon. His third place finish at Michigan in June gave him two straight thirds at Michigan.

In 17 career Michigan starts, Stewart has eight top 5 finishes that include one win. Stewart also happens to be one of the three drivers that placed in the top 10 in each race at Michigan and California this year. The other two were also Chevys, driven by Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.

            ROBERTS Top 5            AT MICHIGAN

1 #17 Matt Kenseth 8/1
2 #24 Jeff Gordon 7/1
3 #20 Tony Stewart 5/1
4 #48 J. Johnson 8/1
5 #1 Martin Truex Jr 14/1
EVENTS WINS TOP 10s 
27 16 76 of 135