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Roush begins layoffs as Cup program reduced

November 22, 2011, ,

Up to 100 employees to lose jobs as it goes from four Cup teams to three

Despite a tremendous season that produced Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards losing out on the Sprint Cup title to Tony Stewart on a tiebreaker, Roush Fenway Racing began contracting with layoffs that went into effect Tuesday.

Sources Tuesday confirmed that the company was cutting its workforce by about 100 employees, with many of those coming from the No. 6 Sprint Cup team of David Ragan, which will not be run next season. For next year Roush Fenway will scale back to three Sprint Cup cars and one full-time and one part-time Nationwide effort -- a situation dictated by sponsorship shortages, as well as Edwards' decision to cut back on his Nationwide involvement to focus on winning the Sprint Cup title.

40 percent

Jack Roush admits frustration with David Ragan and doesn't see the driver with the team in 2012.

Jack Roush admitted his "frustration and disappointment" with the No. 6 program on Monday, when he put the odds of Ragan's return to the Cup Series at "40 percent."

Both UPS and Crown Royal are stepping aside as primary car sponsors after this season, leaving Ragan and Matt Kenseth -- the former a first-time race winner, the latter a past champion and Chase contender this season -- without primary sponsors for next season. On the Nationwide side, Stenhouse and Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne drove blank race cars for much of this season, a situation that may very well repeat itself in 2012.

All of which left the usually rock-solid Roush program in a state of flux as the 2011 season approached its end last weekend at Homestead. The Roush organization appears to be a victim of bad timing, given that a number of its sponsorship deals have ended at a time when money is tight and corporations are reevaluating their position in the market. Crown Royal's departure from the No. 17 car is part of that company's efforts to consolidate its NASCAR interests behind the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. UPS switched from the primary backer of Ragan's car to an associate on Edwards' vehicle for next year.

Such changes in strategy can sometime stand in contrast to performance on the race track -- for instance, Kenseth won three times this year, and Ragan enjoyed his best season in the series -- a reminder that corporate decisions are often made for internal reasons.

"I do believe that sponsors, they want to be associated with a winning program," Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said. "But how you perform on the track -- it's not always necessarily dependent at that particular moment and time. They're not necessarily moving in parallel. These are business decisions companies are making for the most part, and they set their budgets six months in advance. That doesn't necessarily mean they're tracking what's going on out on the track."

And when sponsors make such business decisions, it obviously sets in motion a chain reaction that ultimately affects employees at companies such as RFR.