When Roush Fenway Racing began the 2009 season at Daytona International Speedway, the only goal in mind was to get all five of the team’s drivers into contention to bring a championship back to an organization that hasn’t seen one since Kurt Busch won his first during the 2004 season.
Jack Roush, team owner of all five drivers, came so close last season with Carl Edwards, the driver of the No. 99 Aflac sponsored Ford Fusion, who put up a valiant effort against the eventual Sprint cup champion Jimmie Johnson, finishing second by only 69 points.
Even though Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M sponsored Ford Fusion, would finish out the 2008 season in third, 217 points behind Johnson, there was still that ray of hope that some of that momentum could be carried over into the 2009 season.
After all, the team was able to hold the powerhouse team of Hendrick Motorsports at bay with two of their three drivers taking two of the top five spots at season's end.
Roush Fenway would come out strong to start off the 2009 season with Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt sponsored Ford Fusion, picking up his first as well the organization's first Daytona 500 win.
The win sent a statement out to the rest of the teams that Roush Fenway was geared up and ready to play, and they were prepared to take on all comers.
After Kenseth picked up the victory the following week at Auto Club Speedway, giving him wins in the first two races of the season, the man in the hat had four of his drivers sitting in the top 10 in points (Matt Kenseth first, Greg Biffle fifth, David Ragan eighth, and Carl Edwards ninth).
But as the season would progress, so would the fire that burned within them leaving all but two drivers still within the top 10.
As fate would have it, Kenseth surprisingly would be eliminated from making the chase for the first time since its introduction into the series, back in 2004. Edwards and Biffle would be the only two Roush Fenway drivers representing the organization in the chase, even though they have both remained winless on the year.
Heading into the final race of the season at Homestead, Roush Fenway Racing is hoping to close out the season the same way it started: with a victory. Victories have been far and wide so far this season for an organization that has the most wins at this track, winning the last five and six out of the last seven.
Biffle’s three consecutive wins in 2004, 2005, and 2006, does make him a good candidate to pick up the team's fourth victory of the season and the second win of the Chase, coupled with Jamie McMurray who took the victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s always been a good track for me, and I’m pretty proud to have contributed half of those six wins,” said Biffle.
“As for the team as a whole, I think that we hit on something there a few years ago and were able to just carry over the success. It’s also a driver’s track, and we have some of the best drivers in the series.”
A strong case can also be made for Edwards who has finished inside the top five the last three years, including the win to close out last season's Chase (’06 – second, ’07 – fourth, and ’08 – first), even though he only has two top 10’s in this season's chase.
“It’s our last chance to get a win in 2009. It’s been a tough year. We’ve been working hard. Our mile-and-a-half program is better now than it’s been for a long time, so this race really is one that I feel we have a good shot of running well," Edwards said.
“Our history there is great. We won it last year. It was special to me last year, so it would be an honor for me to do that again.”
This weekend will mark the end of an era for Matt Kenseth and Roush Fenway Racing. After more than a decade serving as the primary sponsor for Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team, DEWALT will run its last race aboard the No. 17 Ford Fusion this weekend at Homestead.
One of the most successful partnerships in NASCAR history, the duo of Kenseth and DEWALT teamed for the 2000 Rookie of the Year Award, the 2003 Championship, and the 2009 Daytona 500 win during their 10-plus year tenure together.
Kenseth, who won here back in 2007, is hoping to end the season the same he started: with a victory.
“It started really well at Daytona and California obviously, but started to go down the next week at Las Vegas when we finished last," said Kenseth.
"It was a frustrating season, because we just did not run well enough. We’ve made some gains the last few weeks and hopefully we will continue to build on that as we move towards next season.”