The Drive For Five

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The last time one team had five drivers finish in the Top 10 was back in 1998 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Johnny Benson, Chad Little and Ted Musgrave were the quintet that accomplished the feat that day for team owner Jack Roush.

Six years later, the Roush boys were at it again, this time in Sunday's GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan where Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and rookie Carl Edwards all notched Top 10 finishes. And again the group was under the watchful eye of the man they call "The Cat in the Hat."

"I liken myself to the nursery rhyme about the old lady who lives in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do," Roush said after Sunday's race. "It's really tough for me to bear the experience that I have, which has been considerable coming up on 40 years of being involved in professional racing. To bring that history to bear and at the same time not get in the way of the guys as they do what is current and what is timely going forward, I try to bring forward a democratic process that brings out the best that everybody has and challenges the things that are not sound that would get them in trouble."

The multi-team owner, who also fields Busch and Craftsman Truck Series operations, now has 71 career Nextel Cup wins since becoming a full-time owner in 1988. Biffle has been with Roush since his NASCAR career started, winning both Truck and Busch titles along the way. The second year Cup Series driver has battled early-season troubles with the No. 16 National Guard team but had a feeling things were going to go his way at Michigan.

"Yesterday, before the Busch race," Biffle answered when asked at what point he knew he had a car capable of winning on Sunday. "I told a couple people that I had a car to win with. I've only felt that way a few times -- not a few times, but as strongly as I did that we had the car. I knew I had a car that was going to finish fourth, fifth, sixth, third, something."

"We've been coming," Biffle continued. "We were fourth at Pocono, sixth at Indy. We were running fourth at Texas -- just all over the place. We were leading California when we had a transmission problem so we've been coming, but we just hadn't got there yet."

Martin, the veteran of the current Roush contingent, has also been on a resurgence as of late. He ran second in Saturday's return to the Busch Series and followed-up that effort with another runner-up finish on Sunday.

"It's just such a privilege to drive for this team and work for these guys," Martin said. "They put me in a race car that could contend to win and the car made me look good today. I'm very grateful for that."

But despite his recent surge, Martin, who is now 12th in the point standings and only 33 out of the tenth and final transfer spot, doesn't want to get caught up in any championship contention talk just yet.

"Please don't drag me into all that," Martin begged. "You know I can't stand over-optimistic people. Don't make me hate myself. If you start that and we start blabbing all that stuff and I don't make that cut, then I'm only left with a broken heart. Right now I'm planning on not being broken hearted if that happens, but go down with a fight. That's my style. That's the way I want to do this thing. I want to go down slugging as hard as I can and if it doesn't work out, then I don't want to be broken hearted. I've had enough to those."

If he and the rest of his team can continue their recent momentum, there won't be too many broken hearts at Roush Racing this season.





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