Pocono Shuts Out Roush

LONG POND, Pa. – For all its success in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, Roush Racing has yet to win at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway.

Roush has been fielding cars since 1988 and has had multiple entries for the past several years. But although there have been some close calls, there are no trips to victory lane.

Mark Martin has finished second three times, and Jeff Burton has been the runner-up twice.

“Pocono has always been a good track for us,” Martin said. “It’s surprising we’ve never won there since we’ve almost always been competitive there. It’s a unique track, but it’s not difficult to get the hang of it. Once you’ve been there a few times, it’s a fun track to drive.”

Martin has been there 28 times, with 14 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. He also has three poles.

“It took me 10 years to win at Dover even though we always run well there,” Martin said. “Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to get all the pieces to come together. We’ve been so close several times. I’m sure a win at Pocono is just around the corner.

“Our team is at a point we can win a race if all the pieces fit together. If we can get the car handling right, nail our pit stops and have a little luck, then we’ll be contenders again. It has been a tough season, but we’ve come a long way and improved in a lot of areas. We’re due for some success.”

Perhaps Martin, Burton, Matt Kenseth or Kurt Busch will finally get Roush Racing to victory lane in this weekend’s Pocono 500.

“The first time we went to Pocono it was a little bit of a struggle to figure out how to get around the track,” Kenseth said. “The second Pocono race, we finished fifth. I have a better handle on the track this year. It takes time there because it’s unlike anywhere else we go to.”

Green Busch: Defending Busch Series champion Jeff Green, who has run some Winston Cup races for Richard Childress, appears to be leaning toward staying in the Busch Series.

Childress is trying to put together a third Cup team next season, with America Online as a sponsor. But no contract has been signed, Green said.

“I know Richard Childress is working with AOL to sign up for the next couple years,” Green said. “That hasn’t been done. As of right now, he doesn’t have a deal for anybody to go drive that car. The only thing I’ve got on my plate right now is my Busch car for the next couple of years. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Green has five more races in Childress’ No. 30 Winston Cup car this year.

Biffle Rumors: While Green mulls over his future, Greg Biffle wants to make to make it clear to everybody where he’ll be next year.

“Take me out of the rumor mill,” said Biffle, who drives Roush’s No. 60. “Roush Racing and Grainger have been great to me and I have no intention of doing anything but staying here to try and win more championships for Grainger and for Jack Roush.”

Roush has promised to move Biffle to Winston Cup in the future, perhaps as early as next year. But with Biffle’s success in the Busch Series this season, some other teams have been calling.

“At this point in the season, the rumors start to fly about which driver is doing what for next season,” Biffle said. “If there’s a hint a driver is leaving a team, the media picks it up and runs with it. Yeah, I’ve had a few calls about going other places, but I’m just not interested in doing so. It’s very flattering to have big name teams calling me at this point in my career, but I’m driving for one of the biggest names in the industry that has a team of racing and marketing people committed to helping my career.

“Why would I think about leaving the opportunity that’s been placed in front of me? Roush Racing and Grainger have agreed to take me Winston Cup racing, and whether that takes place next year or the year after is up to them. My job is to get into that race car each week and drive to the best of my abilities, and that’s what I intend to do no matter what series I’m racing in.”

So Much for ABCs: Ryan Newman and Penske Racing South will skip the remaining ARCA races on their schedule this season to concentrate on Cup and Busch raves.

Newman won the pole for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, then finished fifth last week at Michigan.

“We knew at the beginning of the year that the objective for Ryan was seat time,” team manager John Erickson said. “We’ve just decided the best thing for Ryan and the team is to concentrate on our Busch and Winston Cup races, in addition to some more testing. The beauty of this program is we can change the schedule to fit our needs, all with the goal of preparing for the full 2002 Winston Cup schedule in mind.”

Newman’s next race is the July 14 Busch Series event at Chicagoland Speedway.

More Double Duty: Winston Cup and Busch Series driver Kevin Harvick will pile up the frequent flier miles this weekend, commuting between Pocono and Kentucky Speedway, site of the Busch Series race.

He’ll fly to Kentucky today for Busch practice, then to Pocono tonight in time for Friday’s Cup practice and qualifying. After qualifying, it’s another trip to Kentucky for Busch practice and qualifying, then back to Pocono on Friday night.

Saturday morning, he’ll participate in Winston Cup Happy Hour, then back to Kentucky for the night Busch race before flying to Pocono late Saturday night.

“(Richard Childress Racing) and GM have pulled together to make it happen for the No. 2 and 29 logistically – so much so that I don’t have to worry about it,” Harvick said. “I get on a helicopter, I get on a plane, I get in a car, and I get in a race car. They’ve got people on each end who will have to do all of the worrying so DeLana (Harvick’s wife) and I won’t have to. All we have to do is hope for some good weather. I’ll just kind of go where they point me.”

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