Sprint Cup team preview: Roush Fenway Racing
January 26, 2014, Kenny Bruce, NASCAR.com
It's a case of good news, bad news for Roush Fenway Racing in 2014. The good news? Two of its three Sprint Cup Series teams qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last season and return intact.
The bad news? The teams failed to win a single Chase race, and scored only three victories for the entire year.
It's been a decade since former Roush drivers Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch scored back-to-back titles for the organization in 2003 and '04.
2014 Driver Lineup
Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford; Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Ford; Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford
Biffle has three wins since being paired with Matt Puccia, his crew chief since the latter half of the 2011 season. However, only one, at Michigan, came last year, and the inconsistencies that plagued the team for much of the year carried over into the Chase.
Stenhouse Jr., last year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year, found the competition a bit more difficult on the Cup level, with just three top-10 finishes. An offseason move has reunited the Mississippi native with crew chief Mike Kelley in an attempt to recover the spark that helped him earn consecutive titles in the Nationwide Series.
It has been three years since Edwards lost the championship on a tiebreaker. In the two years that followed, he has finished 15th and 13th in the final standings. On the bright side, he did win twice, upping his career win total to 21, in his first season working with veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig.
The fortunes of Roush Fenway depend heavily on the new rules package and a redesigned front grille for the Ford Fusion. The rules package is aimed at tracks in the intermediate range (1.5 miles), but will be in place for all tracks except for those where restrictor plates are used.
The new grille will help lessen the cars' potential to collect trash on the nose, but it isn't expected to affect aero numbers to any great degree.
Roush Fenway teams have the talent and tools to win. Now they need to rediscover the consistency -- and the speed -- that has been sorely missing.