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Question marks: Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth. Time for a breakout | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net


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Question marks: Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth. Time for a breakout

   Carl Edwards (R) and crew chief Bob Osborne: part of a big NASCAR puzzle (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    By Mike Mulhern

    It continues to be one of the big mysteries of NASCAR 2010 – Ford.
    And the man on the point – Carl Edwards.
    Nine tour wins in 2008.
    Zero for 46 since.
    And he's not alone.
    The most profitable of the carmakers, Ford is still winless on the stock car trail. And that has become baffling and frustrating.
    Edwards may be a picture-perfect NASCAR champion in the making, to rival Jimmie Johnson, in marketing and promoting this sport. Highly personable (unless you happen to be Brad Keselowski). Polished.
    But Edwards is still winless in over a year and a half. And he knows it's time to make something happen.
    Ditto, teammate Greg Biffle.
    Ditto, teammate Matt Kenseth.
    There is something strange going on here, and the longer it goes on, the more questions. Ford's Big Three: Kenseth's last tour win was in February 2009, at California. Edwards' last tour win was Homestead in November 2008. Biffle's last tour win was Dover in September 2008.
    Biffle crashed here in Friday practice for Saturday night's Southern 500 and was forced to his backup.
    Edwards, in final practice (this is an impound race, with no practice after qualifying), was one of the very slowest drivers in the field, 45th out of the 46.
    Kenseth, in final practice, wasn't much better.

   A classic Darlington Stripe, this one on Clint Bowyer's car, on a rough Friday at Darlington Raceway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Here are some of the curious stats, the NASCAR season so far, from the manufacturers' standpoint:

   Wins: Chevrolet 6, Toyota 3, Dodge 1, Ford 0.

   Total laps led: Chevrolet 1,810, Toyota 713, Dodge 501, Ford 362.

   Laps led on short tracks: Chevrolet 601, Toyota 401, Dodge 323, Ford 83.

   Laps led on superspeedways: Chevrolet 1,023, Toyota 219, Ford 195, Dodge 133.

   Laps led at Daytona and Talladega: Chevrolet 186, Toyota 93, Ford 84, Dodge 45.

   (Teams in the fields: Chevrolet 14.7, Toyota 12.9, Ford 12.1, Dodge 3.3)

   And in 2009 wins: Chevrolet 18, Toyota 11, Dodge 4, Ford 3.


  A pensive Matt Kenseth (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   Ford teams are not only off to a slow start this season but things don't look to be improving much. Kenseth was on the pole here a year ago at a
179.514 mph. Biffle was the last Ford driver to win a Cup race here, in 2005 and 2006.
   Biffle has been pointing at this race and next weekend's stop at Dover as two of his best tracks, but Friday's crash – the right-rear edge of the rear spoiler caught the outside wall in a slight brush, and that ripped the rear end of the car off – won't help his chances.
   While Edwards seems to be mellow about this long winless stretch -- well, relatively -- Biffle's mood, on the other hand, is becoming clearly edgy. And he realizes this race and Dover he has to show something, or the questions will become even hotter.
    "I felt we would have a win by now," Biffle says. "We finished up the (2009) season really good, and we started off good (nearly winning the Daytona 500).
    "Ironically, the places we usually run good at, we've run terrible. Phoenix is one of my best places....and Richmond we've always run fairly well."
    Those two 22nds are his worst finishes of the spring. "Those two were really a thorn in our side....Talladega too, because we were pushing Jamie (McMurray) for the win and finished 17th (after getting tagged by Jimmie Johnson).
    "We know we haven't won...and none of our teammates have won. We're searching here; a lot of our teams have different setups, different this, different that, different front geometries.  We're all over the map, hoping somebody hits on something."
    But isn't it pretty deep into the season to be 'all over the map'?
    The right direction? "I thought we were at the beginning of the season, but the last three weeks, no," Biffle says.


  Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one of the first into the wall Friday. That rear spoiler has proven dangerous -- if a man just brushes the wall, the spoiler hooks it and spins the car into the wall (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Edwards concedes his car "is pretty slow right now, but we're working hard on it. We are trying some new stuff.
   "Considering how last week went in practice (at Richmond), we were about 42nd or something on the sheet the whole practice, and (crew chief) Bob Osborne really got things turned around, and we had our best run ever at Richmond (fifth). So I've got a lot of faith."
   If the furnace-like heat continues, Edwards may have an edge, in his physical fitness:
   "This is one of those days where running that Nationwide series (Friday night's 200) doesn't seem like the wisest thing, because you're back and forth (between the two cars), and it's 90-something degrees. 
    "But that's what I train for." 
    Is Edwards just on cruise control, waiting patiently for the September playoffs? After all, the first 26 races of the season don't really count for that much, as long as you've got one of the 12 best teams in the sport and don't mess up too many times. And Edwards certainly does, and he's sitting 11th in the standings after the first 10 tour events.
    "With 16 races left, you could see one team swing 300 points, no problem -- and most likely swing backwards, not forwards," Edwards says.
    "But we've got to be better," he acknowledges.
    "The reason we're in the position we're in, with the points, is we had the bad race at Atlanta and then that wreck at Texas."
    However Edwards has only led two laps all season, and those at Richmond: "Those were the first laps we led....That's not good.
    "We've got to be better than that."
    Is Ford just out of the game right now?
    "This sport is cyclical," Edwards says. "I truly believe we've seen the bottom of it, for our teams.
    "We're doing better. Phoenix, Richmond, Bristol, Texas, we've run better and better. 
     "Compared to a year ago, we're way better."
     Among the places to improve, Edwards says, is qualifying. "Whether that's me or the car or engineering, we've got to get better starting positions." 
    And what about Saturday night's end-game? What does Edwards think about late-race strategy here: keep track position, or pit for fresher tires?
   "I have no clue," Edwards says. "Fortunately it's 500 miles, so we'll have a lot of practice (in the race, with various tactics)."
   Well, assuming there aren't a lot of crashes, like the one that put him in the wall early here last spring.
   "Hopefully people will give a lot in the beginning," Edwards says.
   "It'll crescendo the whole race.
   "And it'll be a dogfight down in turn one if there's a restart with 10 to go and everybody's got four tires."


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    A day of carnage at Darlington. Six men, including Casey Mears here, forced to backups after crashing in practice (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mike I know Ford is not doing

Mike I know Ford is not doing well, but if you "remove Chevy" all the other teams are not far apart!Just look at laps led, that tells Chevys advantage!

Nascars favoritism to Chevy, the never try to 'EVEN IT UP" when Chevy dominates! Opps I forgot 'Chevy has better teams and drivers", no I dont believe that for one minute!

Chevy drivers have a easyier time driving, getting sponsors because they know they have Nascar on their side!

I look back at the nintes Ford had apox 24 cars! But with Nascars Politics and consistent rule changes they only won 2 point titles, thus I think Ford cut back on teams and money in the early 2000s because they seen they would only be number 2 in Nascar so why spend the money for the same effort!

You are only allowed to dominate with a 'Bowtie on the Hood"

Remember in the past when

Remember in the past when Ford was running up front how all the Chev teams cried foul and they got concession after concession handed to them? If the statistics were switched between Ford and Chev this year imagine all the lobbying there would be.

More fans are staying

More fans are staying away--think about it nascar. Perhaps Ford Should get out and you should
change the name to chevycar. It seems that nascar does not care about the fans. It only cares
about chevy and chevy teams.

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