Edwards: Kenseth’s loss at Roush is heavily felt

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Carl Edwards isn’t the least bit surprised that his former Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth has put himself in contention to win his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

“I’m not surprised by (his success), and that’s because I’ve seen how much Matt pours into his driving, and over the years I’ve seen how fierce of a competitor he is,” Edwards said in a media teleconference Tuesday. “I mean, he’s a relatively quiet guy, and he’s pretty understated, but man, he really, really drives the wheels off a race car from the start of the race weekend until the checkered flag falls.”

Edwards and Greg Biffle have been RFR’s “lead dogs” this year but neither has been able to mount a serious challenge in this year’s Chase. Biffle earned some headlines this week for his coming-together with Johnson and a post-race argument they had on pit road; Biffle, however, clarified what happened yesterday in a separate teleconference.

But there’s no denying the impact that Kenseth’s loss to Joe Gibbs Racing has had for RFR. All due respect to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but as a rookie, he’s simply not going to be able to provide the same setup feedback or help push a team forward in its first year.

“I think that we were as good of teammates as I’ve ever had,” Edwards said. “I think a lot of Matt, and I think he was a huge asset to our team.

“It is interesting to watch him in this championship battle, and there are times where I still feel like – it’s hard for me to think of him as not my teammate because of how much time we spent under the same roof. So yeah, to me, as much as I hate to see him do well at another organization – I wish he was doing it here – I think it’s good to see him have the success because he definitely works hard and has given his life to racing.”

Edwards added that while Johnson may beat Kenseth to the title – the pair are tied in points heading into Texas this weekend – Kenseth won’t find a way to lose it.

“I can tell you one thing: Matt won’t make mistakes. He will not lose the championship.  He’ll be one of the strongest parts of that team in my opinion.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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