It was a Roush Racing weekend at California Speedway, as NASCAR rolled into SoCal for the second stop of the season. The “Cat in the Hat” took wins in all three races, a feat never before accomplished. Meanwhile, to the southeast the NHRA ground-pounders attempted to change the rotation of the Earth outside Phoenix at Firebird International Raceway.
NASCAR: Kenseth Inherits Win at California
Matt Kenseth didn’t have the fastest car at California Speedway on Sunday. He didn’t even have the second-fastest car. But he did prove the old adage, “To finish first, first you must finish.” Kenseth won Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race, charging through the field from 31st starting position to make it a clean sweep for Roush Racing in all three races at the track this weekend, the first time in NASCAR history that feat has been accomplished at one track. It was the third Nextel Cup win for Roush at California in the past six races there.
Kenseth’s teammate Greg Biffle was the class of the field, and stunk up the show early, leading 168 of the first 213 laps and pulling out leads of out to 13sec. Second-fastest was defending series champ Tony Stewart, who battled Biffle for the lead and fought back after a flat tire and a botched pit stop. However both drivers ended the race in the garage with blown engines, Stewart falling by the wayside on Lap 214 and Biffle, who won Saturday’s Busch Series race (see below), on Lap 229.
That left the door open for Kenseth, who held off Daytona winner Jimmie Johnson over a green-white-checkered finish and claim the first points-paying Nextel Cup win for the Ford Fusion. Carl Edwards made it two Roush Fords in the top three, with Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton completed the top five. Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, J.J. Yeley, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 10.
The teams get one of their rare weekends off next week before resuming the battle at Las Vegas in two weeks.
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, 251 laps
2) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 251 laps
3) Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, 251 laps
4) Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger, 251 laps
5) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 251 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Jimmie Johnson, 355; 2) Casey Mears, 316; 3) Matt Kenseth, 308; 4) Kasey Kahne, 295; 5) Dale Earnhardt Jr., 287.
NASCAR Busch Series: Biffle Boffo at California
If you want to win a Busch Series race at California Speedway, it helps to be driving for Jack Roush, since Roush Racing has won seven of the last nine races there, including the last five. It also helps to be Greg Biffle, who won the last two.
So it was again on Saturday night, as Biffle held off Ryan Newman and a charging Carl Edwards to make it three in a row for himself and eight for 10 for Roush. It looked like it might be Edwards’ night, as he started from the pole and led 49 laps before diving in for new tires with 16 laps to go when the caution flag flew for debris on the track.
Edwards got snookered, though, and none of the other leading cars pitted, leaving Jeff Burton out front ahead of Biffle, Newman and Jamie McMurray. Biffle quickly dispatched Burton, whose handling was going away, while Edwards put on a show for the fans blasting through the field from 12th on the restart. Biffle cruised to the flag while Newman was just able to hold off Edwards for second. Jeff Burton finished fourth ahead of Jamie McMurray, while Matt Kenseth, J.J. Yeley, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers and Daytona winner Denny Hamlin completed the top 10.