I was in attendance to last night/'s Chevyt Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond. I was looking forward to seeing a great race and a great battle to make the chase. And it was. But there was 1 driver left out, never was a serious threat, and struggled all night.
That was Matt Kenseth.
Matt Kenseth started 28th and went backwards. He even went a lap down. He never ran higher than 23rd, and was at times the worst Roush car on track other than David Ragan (who ended up 33rd for the 2nd straight race). With help from the wave around and soon to be former teammate Jamie McMurray giving him a spot, Matt Kenseth finished 25th and missed the chase by 38 points. Kenseth like last weekened voiced his frustrations.
"The first thing we've got to do is look at what we can do better to get our cars back in competitive form," Kenseth said. "We've got to get our cars to run and we've got to get more consistent on pit road -- but the main thing is getting the cars to run, because they're not very competitiveve.
"We've been working on it hard, we're just weak in a few areas. We've just been off and we haven't got it much better. On a perfect day when everything goes right, we can run about 15th, and that's just not going to cut it."
"We just struggled a lot," Kenseth said. "We had two different opportunities where if we could've had a good (pit) stop, like Dale Earnhardt Jr. did to get his lap back, we could've got our lap back and maybe got in there.
"But to be honest with you, wherever Brian and Kyle [Busch, fifth place] ran, we couldn't have ran there anyway so even if we got our lap back we were going to run 18th or 20th. We just didn't have the car to get it done."
Roush finished 13th, 15h, 25th, 27th, and 33rd. For the 5th time this season Roush had no cars finishing in the top ten. Compare that to last season where as only 1 time did they not have a car in the top ten and it happened to come at this race last year.
When you take a look at points, Carl Edwards now is 8th in points (finished 5th in the regular season), Greg Biffle is 12th, Matt Kenseth is 14th, Jamie McMurray who is departing from the team is 23rd , and David Ragan is barely hanging on to 29th.
Roush has went from one of the best teams in the sport to a mediocre team at best.
"Really, since California it's been a downhill slide for us," Kenseth said. "We've slowly fell back in the points every week, so I can't say I'm very surprised we didn't make it. I'm really disappointed we didn't make it, but we just didn't perform good enough.
"Yeah, there were some mistakes here and there, and there were some points left on the table, but you can say that every year. Basically, we didn't perform good enough -- we didn't run good enough to be in and the way we ran the last three months we didn't really deserve to be in there.
"We need to figure out why because none of our cars really run the way they should. I wish we weren't in this spot, but we did the best we could and we'll try again next week."
After the first 2 races of the year it looked fine for Roush. Kenseth had 2 wins, McMurray was performing but as usual no luck, Edwards and Biffle were really doing well. But From Vegas onward it seems like as Kenseth said, things have gone downhill from there. One can argue that the no testing policy has hurt Jack Roush's efforts. But one would thing being how technical Jack Roush is that it might just help him.
There needs to be improvements and now.
"I thought we'd been working on [improving the team] all year," Kenseth said with a laugh. "I don't think it's going to be any different [in the Chase], but maybe Jack [Roush, team owner] and Robbie [Reiser, competition director] got surprises for us with the team. I don't really know and I hope they don't dismantle our team.
"I'm not really sure [what we can do]. We're always trying to get better; we just haven't been able to do it. We're missing something, in my opinion, with this organization to start with to make all of our cars faster because Carl [Edwards] hasn't won a race all year and he won nine of them last year.
"I think we really need to look hard into our engineering and some of the stuff we're doing to make these cars run, to start with. And on the 17 we need a little work, too. We've been inconsistent on pit road. I've been inconsistent. I missed the pit box [Saturday]."
1 thing that will not help Roush in 2010 is letting David Ragan stay due to his sponsorship deal with UPS and giving the shaft to David Ragan. Ragan has shown 2 out of his 3 cup seasons that he simply for a lack of a better term can't "hang" with the big boys. In his rookie season in 2007 he wrecked 23 times more than any Other driver.
Jack Roush will willing to try things to work on his teams performance or lack there of.
"We thought this front suspension package we tried here was going to be the deal and it wasn't," Biffle said after finishing 14th, the race's best Roush Fenway car. "I think every [Roush Fenway] team here had it. I don't know if we ran any better or worse than we would have, but we're going to continue to work on it -- that's all I can say.
"We've been testing down in Florida a little bit, and I mean, it wasn't like some revolutionary thing. It was just a little bit different package than we've been running. I definitely don't think it was worse, but it wasn't like a miracle fix, you know? But I think every team had a version of it."