News & Media


Roush: Ragan's return 'a 40 percent chance'

November 22, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- Owner says he's 'a frustration and a disappointment'; Stenhouse, Bayne to return

Monday morning, a few hours before he'd celebrate the twin championships his 2011 Roush Fenway Racing Nationwide Series program had won, Jack Roush said his primary Nationwide drivers, series drivers' champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, had rides for 2012.

However David Ragan, who has driven Roush's fourth Sprint Cup car for the past five seasons and who already knew the car's current sponsor, UPS, would cut back its involvement in 2012, more than likely won't return.

"I have tried to help David. [Would you] characterize what I've done as not attempting to be helpful and to do my very best for David? "

--JACK ROUSH

"My expectation right now is that I don't see having something for David next year," Roush said. "We aren't far enough along ... There are some discussions ongoing but they aren't far enough along that I would put more than a 40 percent chance of having something for David."

Roush assessed each of his Cup programs individually and said he wouldn't separate Carl Edwards and crew chief Bob Osborne or Matt Kenseth and crew chief Jimmy Fennig; and that "I wish we'd had better chemistry between the crew chief [Greg Erwin] and Greg Biffle, which I think we've achieved now with Matt Puccia in that slot."

Ragan's No. 6 program was the enigma, despite being in a position to win the Daytona 500, winning the non-points Sprint Showdown and then scoring Ragan's first points-paying victory, at Daytona in July.

"David Ragan was a frustration and a disappointment for all of us," Roush said, "because he was not able to realize the potential that he had, given what his skill is and what the expectations of the sponsor were, and what the performance that was being demonstrated in the car, and what the engineering package was."

Roush said he had not yet decided if the No. 6 -- which would be a guaranteed starter beginning the 2012 season based on its 23rd position in the final 2011 owners' standings -- would run in the Daytona 500. Roush said he hoped to put Ragan's crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer, in a Nationwide program.

Roush said he has done what he can to help keep Ragan in the Sprint Cup Series.

"I have tried to help David," Roush said. "[Would you] characterize what I've done as not attempting to be helpful and to do my very best for David? As far as I know Richard Petty's situation is stable, and either Ricky or Trevor will figure into the Wood Brothers' limited program.

"So I don't really see anybody that's under my direct influence, with regard to building cars for [Ragan], where we'd have something for David. I know David's talking to a number of people and he's commented publicly, though not to me, that he would be in a Cup car next year and he expected to be in the Daytona 500."

Roush Fenway senior vice president of business operations Steve Newmark confirmed the ongoing discussions and said "the ideal would be for David to remain under the Roush Fenway umbrella. We've had some discussions with him, looking at the Nationwide level."

As for Stenhouse and Bayne, their plans are in place, but it's still unsure which one will fit where.

"Ricky will have a ride with us next year, although I'm not sure what, or in which series, for that matter," Roush said. "And so will Trevor. There are [sponsorship] discussions ongoing that are certainly benefitted by the championship and the competitive effort that both Ricky and Trevor made this year."

Stenhouse won twice at Iowa Speedway and defeated Elliott Sadler by 45 points to win the title while Bayne scored his first career Nationwide victory in the fall Texas race.

Newmark said as of Monday RFR would field one full-time Nationwide program and another part-time effort in 2012, and whichever of Stenhouse or Bayne didn't compete full time in Nationwide would compete in the legendary No. 21 Ford fielded for a partial Sprint Cup schedule by Wood Brothers Racing, a Roush Fenway ally.

"Those kids are the future of Roush Fenway Racing and we don't want to get in a position of rushing them along," Newmark said, "particularly within the constraints of the current business structure."

In 2011, Bayne ran 17 races for the Woods, winning the season-opening Daytona 500. Stenhouse ran the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and started ninth and finished 11th in his Cup Series debut.

With Edwards, who secured the 2011 Nationwide owners' championship for Roush, ceasing to run full-time in Nationwide and the status of the No. 6 Sprint Cup program unsure, Roush said "we've got some people that will be displaced, though those decisions haven't been finalized, so I wouldn't care to speculate."

Sources at Homestead-Miami Speedway confirmed over the weekend that layoffs were imminent at Roush Fenway Racing, and that "up to 100 or more" employees could lose their jobs.