This past June at their traditional stronghold of Michigan International Speedway, Roush Fenway Racing struggled mightily, with Greg Biffle leading the stable with a 20th place finish.
It was a loud reminder of how much RFR has struggled in 2014, outside of Carl Edwards’ two wins at Bristol and Sonoma that secured his place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
But two months later, the team’s seemingly in position to have a revival this Sunday at MIS.
In today’s qualifying for the Pure Michigan 400, Edwards, Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. followed up their strong practice speeds by making the final round of 12.
Edwards will start third on Sunday, while Stenhouse and Biffle won’t be too far back in 10th and 11th respectively. Those are good places to be in as they seek a payoff on their hard work in a test session at MIS last month.
“I believe at this point, we did the right thing,” Edwards said after qualifying in reference to the test. “I feel like we have a very fast car here, and yeah, it shows us that we’re doing the right thing. We’re working on things. It is paying off.
“Now, the race is another story. But we’re gonna enjoy this today. It’s been a lot of work for a lot of people and hopefully, we keep moving forward. We’ve been making progress and this is a good step.”
Edwards was one of several drivers to break the old track record in today’s qualifying session before Jeff Gordon rose up to take the pole with a stellar lap of 206.558 mph; Edwards came close in the final round by popping a 206.115.
The Missouri native credited Goodyear for being able to build a tire that can stand up to the forces endured as cars whip through MIS’ wide turns.
“As a driver…You start thinking about the fact that there’s just a little bit of rubber and some air holding that car up – with that much force on it – I have to stop thinking about it, because it’s pretty amazing,” Edwards said.
As for Stenhouse and Biffle, they were equally glad to see improvements.
“It has been awhile since we were able to put our [Ford] Fusion in the final round and it was nice to do that here at Michigan and it is nice to start the weekend off on the right note,” Stenhouse said. “Obviously we would like to be a bit higher up the board, but I will take it.
Said Biffle: “It is a huge improvement from June. We still have a little ways to go though. I didn’t want to come here and run 10th, but I felt like if we came here and legitimately ran 10th on speed then that would be a huge improvement. I am looking for pieces. We aren’t going to get it all at once. [But] I feel good about that. It is a start. We still have some to go and I don’t know exactly where the rest of it is at but we will keep working on it and see where we end up.”