Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Jack Roush may be giving those Mayo Clinic nurses fits now, after Greg Biffle's breakthrough victory at Pocono

  Greg Erwin's crew cheers as Greg Biffle celebrates Sunday's Pocono 500 victory (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   If victory is good medicine, Jack Roush should be perking up this week, after Greg Biffle and crew chief Greg Erwin finally broke Ford's painful drought by a runaway win in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.
   Roush is still hospitalized in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., facing more tests and surgery following Tuesday's crash landing at a Wisconsin air show. But he spent much of Sunday on the phone with his teams here, talking to each driver before the race and then talking with a team spokesman afterwards:
   "It's a proud day for Ford, Greg Biffle, Greg Erwin....and all the wonderful sponsors who have stood by us the last few months," Roush said.
    "I'm comforted by having Robbie Reiser at the helm in my absence and know things are in good hands.
   "But this couldn't have happened without the support of Ford and all of the technical assistance they provide...and of course (engine man) Doug Yates, and his collaboration with Ford on the new FR9 engine can't be overstated. They've done a wonderful job, and this is just the beginning of the rewards from all of their hard work."

  Team owner Jack Roush may be sidelined a few weeks, but his guys seem to have things under control trackside (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  Sunday's finish was marked as much by a huge sense of relief as anything. Ford's drought this season has been both perplexing to follow and mysterious to try to decipher.
   And it wasn't just a one-day showing. There was clear evidence this win was coming in Biffle's performance at Chicago three weeks ago, and then again at Indianapolis last week.
   What might happen this week on the Watkins Glen road course, of course, remains to be seen. But the following tour stop, at Michigan's big fast two-mile should certainly back up Ford's comeback.
   With Roush's return to the track on an uncertain timetable now, and with the hands-on presence that Roush applies with his teams at the track – he never misses a day in the garage – the Roush teams are suddenly on their own, to a certain extent, and Roush's absence was clearly felt Sunday in the hours before the race.
    So when Biffle got the lead on that late-race pit stop by just taking two tires, and he started ripped away from the field, he started feeling a little pressure...and a sense of 'This race is meant to be."
   "When it got to be five to go, I started thinking about it," Biffle said. "It's for Jack.
    "Then I thought about all the time I've spent with the Ford people, and how desperate they are to prove they've got good product. They've got great cars and trucks, but they want to prove on the racetrack they want to win.
    "But I thought about Jack mostly. I just thought this is going to be a great day if I can complete this thing."
     Then in victory lane Roush called Biffle: "He told me he had never met somebody that had the will to win like I do," Biffle said.
    "He said he didn't say that because I drive for him.
    "That kind of put goose bumps on my arms.
     "I give 110 percent all the time; I never give up.
      "No matter how grim the outcome can be, I'll still be digging."
    And that's what he did Sunday.
    That prerace phone call from Roush: "He was Jack -- He was just 'Don't mess anything up, don't wreck....and hope I don't break any parts for you.  I'll see you soon," Edwards said.
    "He's excited for the race today. I could hear it in his voice. 
    "He's been through a lot this last week.  He needed that race today, he really needed that victory."



     Crew chief Greg Erwin: Never give up. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

For Erwin the win is not only vindication, not only a huge turning point, but also immense relief of a weight off their shoulders.
    It's been a tough year and a half since Biffle and Erwin last won on the tour. And remember that was late 2008, when they opened the championship chase with back to back wins at Loudon, N.H., and Dover, Del.
   Since then, they'd gone 64 races without the taste of champagne.
   "Just picture yourself working 60, 70, 100 hours a week....40 to 50 weeks out of the year...and coming up short...and watching these other guys kick your butt every week, basking in the glory," Erwin said slowly.
   "And then having to walk in front of those guys (his crew) 6:00 every Monday morning, look 'em in the eye, tell 'em 'We'll get them next week....'
    "That's what you've got to do.
    "And there's not many doubters on our team. They'll do anything I ask them to do. Anyone in that company will do anything we ask them to do. They'll build us anything we ask them to build us.
    "And they'll come in here and fight till they throw the checkered flag. Whether you're 5th, 10th, 12th, wherever you're at.....
    "But it's going to be a lot easier tomorrow morning to stand in front of them, I can tell you that.
     "Big momentum boost.
     "Perfect time of the season."
    Indeed Biffle and Erwin have been sweating out making the playoffs, with now only five races till the Richmond cut in September.
    And just where Roush's teams are at is still a bit unclear. The four seem on different tracks, with different engineering designs.
    Biffle is clearly the leader of the pack now, with Carl Edwards, third in a good run here, working to match him. But Matt Kenseth still seems off the pace, and so does David Ragan.
   The whole Ford thing has been a mystery all year.
   "Everybody's said 'What's wrong with our racecars?'" Biffle conceded. "We've all complained our racecars aren't what they need to be.
    "I don't think they're there yet. But we're on the right track.
    "I certainly feel like when I show up every week now that I probably have a car I can compete and win with.
     "But we still got a little bit more work to do."
   And so do his teammates.
   But not as much as a couple weeks ago it would now seem.
    A corner has finally been turned.

      [Note: You can use Twitter as an easy headline service for mikemulhern.net stories, with our instant Tweets to your mobile as soon as our newest NASCAR story is filed. And mikemulhern.net is mobile-friendly for viewing. You can also use the orange RSS feed button as a quickie headline service on your laptop or home computer for mikemulhern.net stories, by creating a Live Bookmark RSS feed on your web browser's toolbar. Or you can create a Google Alert for mikemulhernnet.]


    The week didn't begin so well for team owner Jack Roush. First, the loss at Indianapolis, then this hard landing in Wisconsin....but it's ended on a high, with Greg Biffle's Pocono 500 victory.



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com