They won't admit to any added pressure from racing in the backyard of Roush Industries, but the five drivers that pilot Roush Racing Fords in the NEXTEL Cup Series are all focused on one thing this weekend -- picking up another trophy at the ...
They won't admit to any added pressure from racing in the backyard of Roush Industries, but the five drivers that pilot Roush Racing Fords in the NEXTEL Cup Series are all focused on one thing this weekend -- picking up another trophy at the two-mile oval.
Roush Racing, whose parent company is headquartered in nearby Livonia, Michigan, has six wins at MIS in the past 14 years, including Kurt Busch, who put his #97 Ford into victory lane in Michigan last June. They are looking to take the checkered flag again on Sunday in the Michigan 400 (1:30 p.m. Eastern on FOX).
"All of us at Roush want to do well because this is home for Jack," admitted Busch, who suffered a pair of 43rd place finishes at MIS as a rookie in 2001. "My first couple of trips here weren't all that successful for the No. 97 team, but since then I've always enjoyed coming to Michigan. I guess you could say you always want to do well when you're in the boss' back yard."
Busch was the fastest of the Roush stable in Friday's practice session. He had a fast lap of 190.245 mph in his Sharpie Ford, the seventh fastest time of the session.
Matt Kenseth, who picked up a pair of top-10's at MIS on his way to winning the series championship last year, won at Michigan in 2002. He is a fan of Michigan's wide racing surface and expects a good race on Sunday.
"Michigan is about as good an example of multi-groove racetracks that we go to on the circuit," Kenseth said. "The turns are pretty sweeping and you have different lines you can choose throughout the day depending on how the handling affects the car."
Kenseth is looking to put behind him the late-race incident with Kevin Harvick last Sunday at Pocono. Kenseth and Harvick got together in the closing laps of the Pocono 500 and took turns spinning each other under caution. Both drivers were fined $25,000 and put on probation by NASCAR.
Kenseth and Harvick addressed the media before practice on Friday.
"I've always tried to live by the rule of race people how you want to be raced," Harvick said. "But after a while, if you keep doing that and don't get that favor returned, sometimes you quit doing that and start racing people how they race you. Kevin and I have had a couple of incidents. I don't foresee any continuing problems."
Mark Martin is the veteran of the Roush squad. He has four wins at MIS and enjoys returning to the track.
"One good thing about Michigan is that it's easier to pass there than it is a lot of the tracks that we go to," Martin said. "So if you have a better car, you can get around some people. I think this might be the year that we get back up front there."
Even with his success at MIS, Martin won't admit to any added pressure to perform well in Roush's home state. He says that the #6 Viagra team is desperate to win every week.
"There'll all just as important," Martin said. "They're all big. Every race means everything in the world to us. We do everything we can. This one just happens to be close to home for (Roush)."