Diaz: Ford backs up title talk

Championship quest is off to fast start — 2 wins in 4 races

March 23, 2011|By George Diaz

If there was a leader in the clubhouse for trash-talking in the NASCAR preseason, you had to give it up for the boys from Ford.

"Make no mistake, our goal for this year is not to just win races," Ford board member Edsel B. Ford II said during the media tour in Charlotte, N.C., earlier this year. "The goal, simply, is to win the championship.

"We have the right teams, the right drivers, the right engine and the right car to do it. More importantly, we have the will to win. So do not underestimate our resolve."

Said Jamie Allison, director of Ford North America Motorsports: "We like reaching milestones at Ford. … We have 599 Cup wins — the King (Richard Petty) is responsible for nine of those — so, obviously, we're going for the 600 club very soon. We want it bad and we want it at Daytona. Destiny is on our side, legend is on our side and the future is on our side."

Look who's still talking now.

Rookie Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in a Ford, claiming that milestone 600th victory for Ford Racing. Carl Edwards then won March 6 at Las Vegas. That's 2 of 4 Cup races. And that's what backing up the talk is all about.

"We have not worked harder this year than we did the year before," car owner Jack Roush said. "We have basically the same group of people together this year as we did the year before. If you come back and say, 'Was it really just the simulations and getting the stars to line up and the car build activities? Was that just enough?'

"We haven't made crew chief changes. We haven't made driver changes and we haven't made dramatic changes in the component(s) of the car.

"It just speaks to the closeness to the competition and how fragile the packages are and how quickly you can either hit the sweet spot that allows you to trip the light fantastic without apparent difficulty, or whether you just stay frustrated an inch from your goal."

Edwards, who drives for Roush, is second in the Sprint Cup standings. He has been the best driver on the circuit, dating back to last season. Edwards has finished first or second in five of the last six Cup races dating back to last year.

Matt Kenseth is 13th in the standings, followed by Dave Ragan (20th) and Greg Biffle (23rd).

"The thing I'm telling everybody now is to put some of this currency in the bank," Roush said. "Don't read everything that everybody says about how competitive you are and how it's a result of the work you did last winter.

"We didn't work harder last winter than we did the winter before, it's just that we're having a better result from it for the time being, but that too will pass."


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