Talladega II: Roush Racing preview

Roush Racing ready for restrictor-plate racing, round four Talladega Superspeedway, October 1st -- 3rd, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series: EA Sports 500, 1:30PM CDT, Sunday, October 3rd Roush Racing Fast Facts - Mark Martin's second-place run in...

Roush Racing ready for restrictor-plate racing, round four
Talladega Superspeedway, October 1st -- 3rd, 2004
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series: EA Sports 500, 1:30PM CDT, Sunday, October 3rd

Roush Racing Fast Facts

- Mark Martin's second-place run in Dover continued his upward movement in the Chase. Martin is currently in a tie for fourth place, 57 points outside of first. Martin is tied with Jimmie Johnson, but behind in the tie-breaker due to number of wins this season.

- Martin has won on seven of the 10 tracks that will decide the winner of the Nextel Cup, with multiple wins at four of the eight tracks remaining, including two wins at Talladega. Martin has combined for 12 wins, 70 top-fives, 115 top-10's and 10 poles in 211 starts at the remaining eight tracks. Martin has finished in the top 10 in 55 percent of his starts at those tracks.

- Martin has earned two victories (4/30/95 and 5/10/97) at Talladega, where he has also posted 11 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes. In addition Martin has earned two poles at the track, both coming in 1989. In 2002, Martin was inducted into the Talladega Walk of Fame for his on-track accomplishments at the 'world's fastest superspeedway.' Martin's two victories at Talladega tie him with several other drivers as the second most by an active driver.

- This will be the final of four restrictor-plate races in 2004. Despite not being a fan of restrictor-plate racing, Martin has posted top 10's in 49 percent of the 67 restrictor plate races. His 33 top-10's are the most ever.

- The Viagra Team has been strong as of late, having finished top five in six of the last nine and five of the last seven races. In fact, Martin has posted nine of his 13 top-10 and all but one of his eight top-five finishes after June 6. Furthermore, no driver has scored more points in the last six races than Martin, who's climbed from 15th to fifth in the last seven races.

- Martin's pace in the 1997 Winston 500 at Talladega set an all-time NASCAR Cup record for the fastest race ever run, as Martin won the caution-free event with an average speed of 188.354 mph. He covered the 500-mile distance in two hours, 38 minutes and 18 seconds.

- Matt Kenseth finished 32nd at Dover one week ago. He has 16 top-10 finishes in 28 starts in 2004. Kenseth has now been inside the NASCAR Top-10 for 63 straight weeks--the longest active streak.

- This week, the team will bring chassis No. 40 to Talladega--it's brand new and has only been tested once.

- This marks the final race for the 2004 Smirnoff Ice colors for Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team.

- With his second consecutive top-five finish in Dover last week, Kurt Busch remains second in the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings, only one point behind new series leader Jeff Gordon. Busch is the only Chase contender to have top-five finishes in both Chase events.

- Busch has been among the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Top 10 for 27 consecutive race weeks (his only week out during 2004 was following a 16th place finish at the season-opening Daytona 500). He was ranked No. 1 following a sixth-place finish at Texas in early April (04/04/04), and shared the lead with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one week following his win at Loudon (09/19/04)..

- Busch has been strong at Talladega with four top-10 finishes in seven career starts. Three of those performances at Talladega have been among the top five, including a best of third achieved in April of 2001 and matched the following year in the same event. Busch has led laps in four of his seven Talladega starts.

- Carl Edwards has accrued three top-10 and five top-20 finishes in just six NEXTEL Cup career starts.

- The No. 99 team remains 20th in the overall NEXTEL Cup owner point standings. Meanwhile Edwards moves up one position to 41st in the overall driver point standings with just six starts.

- Edwards will travel between Talladega, AL and Fontana, CA this weekend to race in both the NEXTEL Cup and Craftsman Truck Series. Edwards is currently 125 points out of first in the Truck point standings.

- Dave Blaney will practice and qualify the No. 99 Roush Racing Ford on Friday. Per NASCAR rules, Edwards will start at the back of the field for Sunday's race since Blaney will qualify the car.

- This will be the first time Edwards has raced at Talladega Superspeedway however; Edwards did test at the track last week in the No. 17 DeWalt Ford.

Mark Martin
Team: No. 6 Viagra* Ford Taurus
Owner: Jack Roush
Crew Chief: Pat Tryson
Chassis: RK-125 (finished sixth in the spring event)

Mark Martin on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "Talladega could be the wildcard in the Chase. You really can't control what goes on there, and our goal is to not wreck, avoid the 'big one' and try to get a high finish. We know that we don't have a good enough car to drive to the front and stay there, so we'll be in that pack moving around all day - front to back, back to front. We finished fifth and sixth in the two restrictor -plate races that we've finished and I hope we can do that good again. Hopefully we can just get through this week and move on to Kansas where we should be strong. Pat and the team continue to do a great job. We've continued to have very fast race cars, and the team enjoyed one of its best days in the pits last Sunday at Dover. We've come a long way since Daytona and we are just going to have to keep fighting and see what happens down the road. It's been a great ride the last couple of months and we aren't ready for that to end just yet."

Crew Chief Pat Tryson on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "Talladega is a tough race in that so much can happen and there is very little that you can do to control it. Mark is a great drafter and he always does a good job of getting to the front. Hopefully we can give him a good enough car to do that this Sunday and with a little luck maybe we can get out of there with a good finish. We are taking the same car that we finished sixth with in April, so hopefully we can bring another top 10."

Greg Biffle
Team: No. 16 National Guard Ford Taurus
Owner: Jack Roush
Crew Chief: Doug Richert
Chassis: RK-158 (won pole at Daytona 500)

Greg Biffle on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "I'm not a huge fan of restrictor-plate racing but I'm excited about our chances to run well this weekend. We're taking the same car we've run at all the superspeedways this season and it's a great car. We scored the pole with it for the Daytona 500, and we were able to race to the front after starting from the back after an engine change. It also ran extremely well in the first Talladega race and this summer at Daytona even though the final results don't necessarily show it. It's definitely capable of running up front with the lead draft and it's capable of winning if we can put ourselves in position in the closing laps. This is a pivotal weekend for my teammates competing in the chase, so it will be beneficial for us to work together and make sure we give those other teams that typically dominate restrictor-plate races a run for the money."

Crew Chief Doug Richert on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "We're taking RK-158 to Talladega - Greg's favorite superspeedway car. It performed well in testing and sat on the pole for the 500. We had a decent finish with it in Daytona and then took it to Talladega in April. We had a little trouble with overheating the last time we were here but still got a decent finish. We've had a turnaround in the second half of this season and I expect to continue that this weekend in Talladega."

Matt Kenseth
Team: No. 17 Smirnoff ICE Ford Taurus
Owner: Jack Roush/Mark Martin
Crew Chief: Robbie Reiser
Chassis: MMR-40 (new chassis, tested at Talladega last week)

Matt Kenseth on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "We just need to go out this week and try to run up front. We need to stay out of trouble all day long and a lot of times that's a factor that's out of your hands, but we have to do our best. I think we have a good car that we're bringing and we'll see what we can come up with on Sunday and hopefully get some of our points back."

Crew Chief Robbie Reiser on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "This is a new car, it's been to the wind tunnel and we like what we see, but that's just on paper--sometimes it doesn't translate like you want it to, but if we can give Matt a car that handles well in the draft, we've seen that he can take care of the rest out there. The number one thing is for us to stay out of trouble."

Kurt Busch
Team: No. 97 Sharpie Ford Taurus
Owner: Jack Roush
Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig
Chassis: #55 (finished 16th at Daytona, wrecked at Talladega in the spring)

Kurt Busch on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: " Talladega is definitely going to be the wild card in the 'Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.' If you're running in the top-five during the race, usually you're single file and out of the three-wide pack - that's something you try to position yourself for. If you're stuck in the middle of the pack, there's not much you can do. You don't want to get caught up in that big wreck, so you have to decide if you want to go forward or if you want to hang out in the back and wait for a pit stop to jumble up the field. Qualifying is important, but, if you qualify up front, you can get shuffled to the back quickly if you get into the wrong draft. We'll just see how it shakes up. We have a good car. It's the car we ran at the first Daytona and then here again in the spring, so I'm excited to bring it back. We're second in points by a single point, but I have a feeling that could change pretty drastically considering how these restrictor-plate races tend to go."

Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "Kurt's done pretty well here over the years. We're bringing the same car and back-up that we took to Daytona for the 500, and the primary did really well there. We got caught up in a wreck here earlier in the spring, and couldn't take the car back to Daytona for the July race. But it's back now and we know it's a fast car, and Kurt has proven that he knows how to handle the Sharpie Ford at these superspeedways, so we feel pretty good about it."

Carl Edwards
Team: No.99 Ford Taurus
Owner: Jack Roush
Crew Chief: Bob Osborne
Chassis Number: RK-232 (raced at all restrictor plate tracks in 2004)

Carl Edwards on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "I'm really, really excited to race at Talladega. This will be my first time running there and my first restrictor-plate race. I tested the No. 17 Ford there last week and it helped a little as far as helping me learn the track. Like where the bumps are, the different lines, all that kind of stuff. It will be much different drafting than running by myself though but to be honest, you can test at Talladega for a month and when the green flag drops, it's totally different."

Crew Chief Bob Osborne on racing at Talladega Superspeedway: "The No. 99 team had a good run at Talladega earlier this year finishing seventh in the spring race. I think we have a pretty good car heading into this weekend's race; we're real excited about our chances. This will be Carl's first restrictor plate race in the Cup car but he's a smart race car driver and I think he'll be fine. Carl will have to start at the back of the field Sunday but at a restrictor plate race that's really no big deal. Cars shuffle around 20 times before the checkered flag falls. If we can avoid the 'big wreck' I think we'll be fine."

-rr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Jack Roush , Dave Blaney , Doug Richert , Mark Martin