Roush and Ford right at home running up front at Michigan

Updated: June 20, 2008, 10:23 AM ET

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Jack Roush, left, and Carl Edwards have a good thing going at Michigan International Speedway.

Start Your Engines

Michigan International Speedway isn't far from the home base of Roush Industries, Jack Roush's multifaceted company that develops nearly everything from performance cars to airplanes.

The area is so much of a personal playground for Roush, he's doing the flyover for Saturday's Craftsman Truck Series race in his own P-51 fighter plane. Sunday, he likely will take in his usual Michigan race day -- watching Roush Fenway Fords run at the front.

Ford dominates at Michigan like no place else in Sprint Cup, with seven wins in the past 12 events -- six of those wins by Roush Fords. Five Roush drivers have won there, Mark Martin and Kurt Busch earlier, plus current stablemates Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

Edwards is the defending champion of Michigan's June race and the top Roush man in the standings, in fourth.

"Michigan is a kind of bragging-rights track. It's in Roush's backyard," Edwards said. "It's a great track with some really awesome racing. You can pass, and I think the fans always see a good show there."

The 2-mile oval has plenty of room to roam in length and width, making it about the last place a driver would say doesn't allow choices on where to run.

"I think the thing that really sticks out is the width of the groove. There are a lot of options at Michigan," said Jeff Burton, second in points for Richard Childress Racing and one of Chevrolet's best weapons to try to end the Ford dominance. "You can run all the way down on the white line or run almost up by the wall. You don't have to follow somebody around. It's certainly not a one-groove track. It also makes it a challenge for the team because the car has to work in multiple grooves."

Like Pocono, Michigan will host its two races within two months, making it a significant player in the race for the Chase. As things sit today, the Chase field has six Chevrolets, three Toyotas, two Fords and one Dodge. But Ford could improve its lot with a dozen races left before the Chase begins.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart is on the bubble in 12th on the heels of consecutive finishes of 41st and 35th at Dover and Pocono, respectively. There are three cars looming within 34 points of Smoke's Toyota, including the Roush Fords of David Ragan (13th in points) and Kenseth (15th).

Both have made moves up the standings in recent weeks, and having a home race at Michigan up next is just about perfect.

"Michigan is not a super-difficult track to drive if you have a car handling the way it needs to handle, so we've just been able to get the cars to drive like I need them to drive to be able to run good at that track," said Kenseth, a two-time Michigan winner, most recently in June 2006. "We've always had good engines, good aerodynamics and good-handling cars there, and that is what you need. I'm sure this trip will be a little different with the new cars, but I'm sure we'll be able to figure it all out."

The Roush boys usually do there.

Rocket Man

Kasey Kahne: Going into the two weeks at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600, the No. 9 Dodge was mediocre. Five led laps in 11 races and no top-5s prompted Kahne to say, "To me, it's just [our] cars aren't where they need to be to go fast."

Consequently, he needed a fan vote to get into the All-Star race. But he took the gift and won with it, then added the 600 win and yet another victory Sunday at the Pocono 500. Four weeks, three wins and a leap up the standings into ninth place and Chase contention.

"You go to Gillett Evernham right now, and everybody is walking around there with a smile on their face, and that's not how it was a month and a half ago," Kahne said.

John Schwarb is a motorsports contributor to He can be reached at



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Clint Bowyer: This would be a fairly stunning collapse, Bowyer's not making the Chase. After stealing a win at Richmond when Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. tangled two laps from the finish, the Richard Childress Racing driver was fourth in points and had more thoughts about making a move for first than about staying in the top 12.

A month later, that perspective is completely different. Progressively worse finishes of 15-25-36-39 since Richmond have dropped Bowyer to 11th, 72 points ahead of 13th-place David Ragan.

Sometimes when you're running badly, the schedule doesn't bail you out. Michigan is one of three tracks where Bowyer has never finished in the top 10.

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Michael Waltrip: At least it can't get any worse. Maybe. In finishing 37th at Pocono, Waltrip fell out of the top 35 in owner points and will have to qualify his way into Michigan. He's last in driver points among those who have started all 14 races.

His plight would be easier to take if his team and Toyota were in a funk like last year, but that's not the case. Fellow Michael Waltrip Racing driver David Reutimann has been respectable, with five top-20s in the past seven races to take him far from owner-point worries. But Waltrip has only two lead-lap finishes all season, both on restrictor-plate tracks, his longtime strong suit. And those finishes were 29th and 27th.

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In two races since finishing 42nd at Charlotte in an incident highlighted by a tire bounding into the infield campground, the No. 83 finished 13th at Dover and second at Pocono. Vickers is 17th in points, only 112 behind Tony Stewart for the 12th spot.

The fifth-year Cup driver has as many top-5s (two) as 10th-place Kevin Harvick, but five finishes of 25th or worse have held him back. Get rid of those and sprinkle in a few more days like the one at Pocono, and Red Bull could see its first big return on its massive NASCAR investment, landing a Chase berth.