FONTANA, Calif. - When Greg Biffle's engine spewed white smoke and died after leading 168 of the first 218 laps in Sunday's Auto Club 500, car owner Jack Roush still had four other chances to win the race.
By owning five cars in Sunday's race at California Speedway - and owning a lot of the track records as well - a Roush victory wasn't in doubt.
With Biffle's Ford creating a puddle of oil in the garage area, Matt Kenseth took Roush to Victory Lane, and two other Roush cars finished in the top six.
After dominating most the first 400 miles with Biffle, Roush saw Kenseth dominate the final 72.
"I feel bad for Greg. He probably had the best car. But we probably had the second- or third-best one. We have a lot of loyal people who work hard and want to win. Jack's been working a long time on these.
"I was sort of planning on running second."
Kenseth became the fourth different driver from the Roush camp to win a Nextel Cup Series race at California since it joined the stock car circuit in 1997. He also was the winning car owner in Friday's Craftsman Truck Series race with Mark Martin and in Saturday's Busch Series race with Biffle. In all, Roush has won 11 NASCAR races at California in the past 10 years.
Roush's cars combined to lead 206 of 251 laps.
Kenseth not only got an assist from Biffle's bad engine, he got a similar favor from Tony Stewart's bad engine. Stewart led 28 laps midway in the race before his Chevrolet blew up.
"We overcame some things, and I think we're going to have a good car all year," Stewart said. "But I don't think we had anything for Biffle."
Biffle was shocked his car ran so strong for 400 miles, only to come unglued down the stretch.
"I think we had the best car out there," he said. "We might have been better than the 17 (Kenseth). Now we'll never know. It's frustrating, It kind of drains you, but I've got to be optimistic about our season."
Stewart was last. Biffle was next-to-last.
Kenseth started 31st and used the first 50 laps to work this way through the field. Shortly before the midway point, Roush cars were running first, second, third and fourth with Biffle, Kenseth, Martin and Carl Edwards.
The winner took the lead on Lap 219 with a quick pit stop with a two-tire change following Stanton Barrett's spin. He never trailed again. He was 25 yards ahead of Jimmie Johnson when a late caution for Scott Wimmer's smoking car set up another green-white-checker overtime. Johnson tried to get beside Kenseth on the re-start, but Kenseth easily kept his Ford Fusion far enough ahead to win by three car lengths.
Edwards wound up third, followed by Kasey Kahne in fourth and Jeff Burton in fifth.
"We made some adjustments on that last pit stop," Kenseth said after earning $324,991. "That gave me confidence for the longer run, but Greg was pretty quick on a long run. When he was back there, I totally assumed he was going to run us down on a long run."
Either way, Jack Roush had it covered.
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us