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Race Day: Are Cup Fords Suddenly Sudden?

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 3 2010

Hometown hero and Ford driver Carl Edwards signs autographs for Kansas Speedway fans. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Kansas City, Kan. – The Ford Fusions have been running wild at Kansas Speedway this weekend and the head of Ford Racing says its a matter of evolution and not revolution.

“There’s never a single thing that moves the teams up,” Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing North America, said. “It’s always a compilation of things.”

The weekend at Kansas started slowly for Fords as three were in the top 12 on the speed charts for the first practice Friday.

But in qualifying the pace picked up. The Fords of Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard were first and second fastest respectively. Four more Ford drivers – Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan and Bill Elliott – were in the top 12.

The pace continued fast for the Fords in practices on Saturday with five cars in the top 12 in the morning and five more in Happy Hour.

“All of the Ford’s showed up with more speed this weekend but I don’t really know why to be honest with you,” Roush Fenway Racing driver Kenseth said. “It just seemed like they all had more speed this weekend when we unloaded.”

Those thinking that perhaps Ford had administered a healthy tweak to the FR9 engines prior to Kansas are wrong, Allison said.

There has just been steady progress since the second race at Michigan International Speedway, he said.

“It’s just been a consistent running up front,” Allison said of the Fords, which have just one victory this year but a growing number of podium finishes.

“It’s our engine, it’s working together. It’s simulations, engines and front end geometry. It’s that the hard work throughout the season is now peaking. I like to think we are now reaching our peak here in the last couple races of the year and that’s where you want it to come.”

Mark Martin in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was fastest in Happy Hour while teammate Jimmie Johnson was second.

Biffle was third followed by Joey Logano in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Fast facts

Track: Kansas Speedway

Location: Kansas City, Kan.

Configuration: 1.5-mile tri-oval

Seating capacity: 81,687

Banking in turns: 15 degrees

Race: Price Chopper 400 presented by Kraft

Laps: 267 (400 miles)

Last year’s winner: Tony Stewart

Last year’s polesitter: Mark Martin

Today’s polesitter: Kasey Kahne

Nice couple: David Ragan arrived at Kansas with his first solid week of work with Drew Blickensderfer as crew chief in the books.

And Ragan has been fast for most of the weekend in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing car.

“Our mile-and-a-half program has really been the strong point for us and it was good to have a full week in the shop with Drew to come up with a game plan for this weekend,” Ragan said. “Last week, he was kind of thrown in and had to make changes on the go, so it was good for us to spend some time together to put together a plan. Qualifying is half the battle and I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Trivia time: Two drivers – Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart – have won multiple races at Kansas as each has two wins there. Two drivers have won multiple poles. Who are they?

Nice story derailed: With 11 laps to go a heck of a good story was brewing in Saturday’s Nationwide race.

Missouri driver  Mike Wallace had taken the lead on a fuel-mileage circumstance and appeared headed to a possible victory. It would have been his first victory since 2004. It would have been the first victory ever for team owner Johnny Davis.

But with 10 laps to go, a caution came out and the bid for the victory was over. Joey Logano went on to win the race.

No respect: Kyle Busch got on his radio about half way through Saturday’s Nationwide Series race and let go with a comment about two rookies in the field.

He told his crew to tell the crew of Ryan Truex to have its driver “pick a lane” because he was driving “just like the girl that’s out here”.

The girl was Jennifer Jo Cobb, whom Busch had bumped out of the way during a recent Camping World Truck Series race.

Cobb, a Kansas native, had secured the final qualifying position for the race – which was her second start of the season in the NNS.

Truex is the brother of Sprint Cup driver Ryan Truex Jr. Younger brother Ryan was making his fourth start in the Nationwide Series this season.

Trivia answer: Jimmie Johnson has won three Kansas poles and Kasey Kahne two (including this year’s).

Up next: Auto Club Speedway will host the four race of the Chase.  Jimmie Johnson won last year’s fall race in Fontana and Denny Hamlin won the pole.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, October 3 2010
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