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Fords are 'screaming fast' at Las Vegas, with Matt Kenseth setting a record in a 1-2-3-4 sweep

   This 800-foot leap of faith, then a 9-G ride with the Thunderbirds....what's next for Carl Edwards? Perhaps more Kyle Busch here Sunday (Photo: Harry Ransom for LVMS)


    By Mike Mulhern

    Busch versus Busch?
    Well, they'll have to deal a bunch of Fords first.
    Matt Kenseth, Marcos Ambrose, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle led a 1-2-3-4 Ford sweep on a gorgeous warm-and-sunny afternoon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
    But Toyota's Kyle Busch and teammate Joey Logano are looking tough too on this record-fast track.
    Kurt Busch, Kyle's older brother, didn't fare quite that well in Friday afternoon qualifying for Sunday's Las Vegas Kobalt Tools 400 at this 1-1/2-mile track, which Goodyear engineers consider perhaps the toughest on the tour on tires.
   How tough on tires? Well, Goodyear put its Daytona right-sides on these cars for this 400. Or, rather, Goodyear put the Las Vegas right-sides on Daytona 500 cars for the first race on that new asphalt two weeks ago.
    The tires may take a few laps to warm up, as Phoenix winner Jeff Gordon showed, spinning out his first lap of practice. (Ironically Daytona winner Trevor Bayne slapped the wall his first lap of practice last week at that Arizona track.)
    And then David Ragan, another Ford driver, spun during qualifying and made a great save to stay off the wall.


    Matt Kenseth: On the pole at record speed....and still convinced Brian Vickers was wrong to blame him for that Phoenix crash (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    The Busch brothers are atop the NASCAR standings, two races into the tour's 36.  And they've run strong at both Daytona and Phoenix.
    Kyle Busch is strong again here, but Kurt is grumbling: "We were really far off in practice…and to have not done much in 12 months (since last year's race here) to help our car get through the bumps better is confusing. We need to plug away at that."
    Bumps here were a hot topic among drivers, because of the faster speeds, which of course accentuates the bumps.
    Kenseth took the pole at 188.884 mph, which means more than 200 mph into the corners, certainly a thrill with the bumps in the middle of turns one and two.
    "Noooo, don't fix 'em," Edwards says. "You've got to have something to drive around or deal with. Bumps give the track character.
   "I moved up on the track and tried to get around them on high side, but it was just as bumpy up there. But it looks like some guys are getting through the bumps better than others."
    What to expect from the Busches here, where the two earned their spurs, over on The Dirt Track?
    Edwards, for one.


Kurt Busch: not pleased with his car. It won't go over those first turn bumps (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


    Edwards says "My very first lap on this track today was screaming fast."
    And Edwards, remember, could easily be looking for his fifth straight tour victory. He won Phoenix and Homestead to finish off 2010, and he finished second at Daytona and then had the fastest car at Phoenix last weekend only to get bumped too hard by Kyle Busch.
     That bump that put Edwards behind the wall for length repairs and took him out of contention for a win he'd felt was almost certainly to be his.
    "It was extremely disappointing last week. Daytona was okay, but last week was hugely disappointing," Edwards says.
     "The big disappointment last week was I felt we had a car that could win; we were on the pole and had a dominant car the first 50 laps.
      "I wasn't sure what had happened…and the longer I thought about it, the more mad I got," Edwards says of the Phoenix run-in.
    "It is so hard sometimes as a driver -- especially in that situation. The further the day went on, I got to thinking more about how fast my car was, and I was just mad in general.
     "Then when I saw how well he was running, it made me a little madder. What I tried to do was keep my emotions in check and focus on the job at hand.
     "The hard part, on top of that, is to be patient and wait to see what his explanation was.
     "I wasn't sure what happened, and I was trying my hardest to give him the benefit of the doubt…until you speak.
    "I don't ever want to be that guy who gets mad and points fingers….I don't want to be the guy who gets out of the car angry as hell at the wrong guy.
     "I try to do my best to figure out what happened first.
     "But I was upset, and I hadn't decided whether or not to be upset at him."
     Now they've talked.
    "Kyle and I did talk, yes….and I'd beat him up all week in the media, saying he hadn't called me yet -- but he was calling my old phone number. He had the wrong number," Edwards said.
    "I give him a lot of credit for coming over and talking to me…and I think we will be fine."
    The two ran into each while at the front of the pack early on, and that's been symptomatic of the early season, with drivers running with some odd sense of urgency, no matter how early in the race.
    "I hope we don't see more of Kyle and me," Edwards says with a shake of the head. "I just want to get through this race and finish where I think we can.
    "What happened last week -- looking back on it -- is just hard racing…and I really believe that is behind us. Hopefully we can stay out of those messes throughout the year and have fast enough cars that that one doesn't really matter.
   "The racing is as intense as ever. With the double-file restarts, people are realizing you have to go as hard as you can (early), because you might not get another opportunity to pass these guys.
    "And the higher speeds here are going to make it more treacherous to run side-by-side.
     "The bumps are a little big bigger….which I think is good: character in a track is great.
     "The wind is a factor too, and if that stays up, it will throw a little more chaos into the mix.
    "I think you will see guys -- hopefully -- being patient with one another enough."
     Edwards says Jack Roush's cars were strong overall at both Daytona and Phoenix, a trend he hopes continues: "The real test is how we run here and at Bristol (March 20). If our cars are that good, then this is going to be a great year."



 Marcos Ambrose. More Ford-power. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)




   Brad Keselowski, who has an Army buddy who was seriously injured in the Middle East, will be working with Veterans Administration officials in four areas of the country to help some injured military veterans become reinvigorated about their recovery from war wounds.
  "There are two groups in these hospitals....one that gets back in the game and is working at it...and another group over in the corner that just doesn't seem interested. We want to get that second group to get up and get motivated again," Keselowski said.
   So Keselowski will be inviting selected wounded veterans around the country to enjoy a NASCAR race weekend at the track and take a couple of at-speed laps with him.
    Keselowski is working with local VAs to identify military men and women, wounded in the line of duty, who would benefit from the motivational incentives. The program will included weekends at Michigan International Speedway in June, Bristol Motor Speedway in August, Richmond International Raceway in September, and Talladega Superspeedway in October.

   With Nellis Air Force Base right across the street, it's no surprise that Las Vegas Motor Speedway likes to hook up its drivers with the famous Thunderbirds, based at Nellis.
   This time Carl Edwards got the call, and he followed up last week's leap of faith 800 feet from the top of the Stratosphere with a 9.1-G run in one of the Thunderbirds' F-16s.
   "Insane," Edwards said of his flight. "We went to Death Valley and flew over mountaintops upside-down and gave some folks in their campers the air show of a lifetime.
    "They let me fly the plane, which was a lot of fun.
   "And I didn't get sick, which was huge."

   NASCAR teams get a rare week off after Sunday's Las Vegas 400, but Charlotte Motor Speedway and most of the major teams based nearby will put on a one-day SpeedFest Saturday March 12th.
    There will be free simulator ride vouchers from the NASCAR Hall of Fame and free tours. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The teams participating: Roush Fenway Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

   The Jeff Byrd 500, at Bristol Motor Speedway March 20th, will feature Byrd's family – wife Claudia, son Christian, and daughter Belton – as Grand Marshalls.  
   Food City holds naming rights for the spring event and is using that to rename the race the Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City, in honor of the man who ran the Tennessee track for so many years. Byrd died last October.

                                   The starting lineup for Sunday's Las Vegas Kobalt Tools 400



I don't know about the rest

I don't know about the rest of the country, but in NY we lost the live TV feed from Speed during Matt Kenseth's record-breaking run. You kinda knew it would be special because coming out of Turn 2, he was running over 185mph, then the TV feed drops going straight into a Sunoco commercial, then back to qualifying after the fact. David Ragan may have won the pole had he'd hung on to it. He was running as fast as Kenseth out of Turn 2 but lost it. Great save. By not tearing up the car, I wonder did it save his job? SMH.

After being non competitive

After being non competitive for a very long time it's about time the ford guys do something. All last year they were not even a factor, out to lunch you could say. I'm not a ford or GM guy as I've owned as many of each one during my life,I have one of each in my garage right now, lets just say I like them both, but it's good for all cars to have a chance , it's more fun. The GM teams are better at crying though, all last year the Fords stunk and the Ford guys didn't hardly gripe. Watch how fast the Chevy guys start crying about being disadvantaged, especially guys like Harvick, who inserts himself in every issue whether it's his business or not,and he calls Edwards phony??

Dont start its Fords that are

Dont start its Fords that are 1234, in qualifying!!!!

State the drivers, like when Chevy gets to do, notice the press when Ford drivers dominate its the Ford Brand!!!!! Then here comes the rule changes!!

When Chevy dominates its always announced as drivers! never hear "Chevy" who has dominated the sport for decades, it will be Hendrick Horsepower or ECR power and somehow they "delete the Chevy" to it!

Then the casual fan thinks a Ford driver has won because of a edge, and then takes away from driver!!!

So just say Kenseth was first and Ambrose was second,Edwards third and Biffle fourth!!!

lol: i know where you're

lol: i know where you're coming from. good point. but ford -- doug yates -- has something hot now, and good timing. daytona, maybe lucky, with the cooling issues and the new fr9. but phoenix showed me that the turnaround jack roush made sometime last summer -- maybe it was chassis stuff from Kasey Kahne and Evernham's bunch, maybe it was some engine stuff -- was a big turnaround. and it's continuing. that's good. give carl edwards good stuff and he'll kick your butt. i like that. matt? he didnt care for some of that new chassis stuff last year, and may not like it still, but he's got the hot iron. i want to see what he does with it. the key here sunday in vegas -- imho, it's marcos ambrose. give him some hp and better give him some room!

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