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FONTANA, Unites States — There was once a time when a Roush Fenway Racing Ford had a better than average chance of finishing first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway.
After all, the team raced to five straight wins between 2005 and ‘09, with Matt Kenseth taking the checkers three times while Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle each won once. Unfortunately, on Sunday, the Ford Fusions in the 43-car field failed to lead a single lap in the 200-lap race that took two hours, 39 minutes and six seconds, as winner Kevin Harvick averaged 150.849 mph.
But while Ford was shutout of victory circle, Edwards did jump to the top of the points ladder after the fifth of 26 races that will determine the field for the 10-race Chase for the championship.
Edwards, who posted an eighth-place finish, will go into next week’s race at Martinsville, Va., with a nine-point lead ahead of Ryan Newman.
“For our Aflac team to come out of here leading the points is big, considering how we ran all day,” said Edwards. “We really weren’t that good. Congrats to those guys that battled up front. They put on a good show and we will just go to Martinsville now.”
Kenseth was the highest finishing Ford driver, taking fourth.
“The last two weeks Jimmy [Fennig, crew chief] and these guys have made some great adjustments and had our Crown Royal Ford the best it has been all day at the end of the race, which is important,” said Kenseth, now 10th in the points 30 behind Edwards.
“It is a good day for us. You are always greedy and want more.
“I was the first guy on tires and I didn’t do probably as good a job as I needed to on the restart. It just took awhile to get there.”
Sunday’s race was decided on a two-tire call by the winner, who came from ninth on the final restart to take the lead coming off the last turn. It was the only lap he led all day.
“What an exciting race,” said Edwards. “I am really excited for these great fans you to be able to see that wild of a finish at this race track which is one of the best race tracks we go to.”
Biffle ran in the top 15 most of the day before coming in 11th place.
“It was a pretty good day considering where we qualified and how the car drove most of the day,” said Biffle. “We really came back. Our car was turning and really loose and felt like it was cutting off the left front too much at the end. That is why I lost all that track position.
“We came back and put two on and got back to 11th. I would have had [Juan Pablo] Montoya at the end there but the 88 [Dale Earnhardt Jr.] was inside me.”
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne had quite the experience, slamming into the speedway’s blue wall.
“Today was a long day. From the first lap to the last lap we were tight the whole time, sliding the nose through the center of the corner and all the way off,” said the driver of the Wood Brothers Motorcraft Ford. “I couldn’t get the gas down and that cost us a lot of speed and a lot of position. Those tires seemed to bite us the last two weeks in a row with being tight.”
AJ Allemdinger, driving the Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, was 14th.