Ford Racing Places Three In Nascar’s Chase
Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth – three of Ford Racing's eight fulltime drivers—will continue to race for the 2008 championship after qualifying for NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The 10-race playoff begins Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway and concludes November 16 with Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The series' top 12 drivers, based on points earned through the first 26 races of the season, had their totals reset and race winners received additional bonus points for each victory.
Edwards is the No. 2 seed, behind Kyle Busch, after posting six victories and a series-leading 19 top-10 finishes during the regular season.
"We'd like to start the 2008 Chase with a win, as would the other 11 drivers," said Edwards, who in 2007 won the Nationwide, NASCAR's second-tier series, championship. "We'll work hard to put the Office Depot Ford into Victory Lane this weekend."
Only one driver has won the championship during the Chase era without winning one of the final 10 races.
Biffle and Kenseth are seeded ninth and 12th, respectively. Biffle returns to the Chase after a two-year absence.
"I'm excited to be back in the Chase after missing it for two years," Biffle said. "It was great to solidify our spot in the Chase last weekend at Richmond, but now we've got to show everyone why we belong here."
Biffle, who finished second in the standings in '05, has an opportunity to accomplish what no other driver has ever done: win championships in all three of NASCAR's top series. Biffle won the Craftsman Truck series title in 2000 and the Nationwide championship in '02.
Kenseth won the last Cup championship contested under the old format, in '03, leading the standings for a series-record 33 consecutive weeks along the way. Kenseth is one of only two drivers (two-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson is the other) to qualify for every Chase.
However, this year Kenseth was not a shoo-in. He, like Biffle, has not won a race yet this year. As late as May, he was a low as 22nd in the standings before a rally of seven top-10s over the next eight races put him in the top 12 for good.
"I'm glad we're in," Kenseth said after a 39th-place finish after last Sunday's race at Richmond.
Chip Bolin, in his first season as crew chief for Kenseth's No. 17 Ford Fusion, understands that although the team struggled earlier in the season, the final 10 races gives his driver a fresh start at the team's singular objective.
"Despite making the Chase and pulling off top-10s several weeks in a row, our program is still struggling a bit with our setups – and having competitive cars for Matt," Bolin said. "The Chase is really what it's all about.
"The reason that the guys on this team do what they do and work as hard as they do is to win a championship. There really isn't any other goal on this team, so now is the time for us to step up and perform. I feel like our team is as good as any out there, and if we can get these cars better and better, then we'll have a shot at this."
Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth have combined to produce four of team owner Jack Roush's five NASCAR championships.
"Carl demonstrated to me," Roush said after Edwards won the Michigan Cup race in August, "as Matt Kenseth did before him, and Greg Biffle did, that he's going to be as good in this business as anybody I've ever known. And, he's going to stay there for a long time. …Very quickly, after he won his first race, I told him, ‘I'll stay in this business as long as you drive these cars,' and I hope that I've got job security for a long time now on account of that."