Editor’s note: NASCAR.com continues its countdown of team previews for the Monster Energy Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings. Today’s feature: Roush Fenway Racing and drivers Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Roush Fenway Racing
Engine: Roush Yates Engines
Drivers: Ryan Newman, No. 6; Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17
Crew chiefs: Scott Graves, No. 6; Brian Pattie, No. 17
2018 standings: Newman placed 17th and narrowly missed the playoffs in the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, and the No. 31 car was 17th in owner standings. Stenhouse coincidentally finished right behind Newman, in 18th in both the driver and owner standings. The joint effort of Trevor Bayne and Matt Kenseth in the No. 6 had the car 25th in owner standings.
What’s new: The biggest change for the longtime NASCAR organization is the driver switch to Newman after several full-time years with Trevor Bayne behind the wheel and last year’s split effort between Bayne and Matt Kenseth. Crew chief Scott Graves returns to the organization to helm the No. 6 after time with Daniel Suarez and Joe Gibbs Racing. All Ford teams will be deploying the new Ford Mustang, as well.
Outlook: With any sort of organizational shakeup, there’s always a reason for optimism to be found. This could be just the change Roush needed to spark its ascension back to NASCAR elite status, but it’s more in the “possible” category than “probable.”
Ryan Newman, No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford: It was quite clear that a breakup with RCR was on the horizon after Newman sputtered through the first half of the season. In September, Roush announced it had signed the veteran driver for its No. 6 entry. The longtime Cup Series mainstay posted one of his worst statistical seasons to date in 2018, failing to notch a top five for the first time in his full-time career and racking up less than double-digit top 10s for the first time in a decade. That said, the change should offer some rejuvenation, plus he’s only a few years removed from a Championship 4 appearance and was a winner in 2017. His crew chief brings along some championship experience as well, leading Suarez and Chris Buescher to Xfinity Series titles. The ceiling might not appear to be super high at the moment, but this combination should put together a better season than the No. 6 had last year.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 Fastenal Ford: A 29-year-old Stenhouse had a career year in 2017 with two wins and the most top-10 finishes he’s ever had. All the signs were there for a driver in his prime about to break out … but he took a sizable step back and missed the playoffs in ’18. There were a few bright spots in that he had a career-best average starting position of 14.8 and more than doubled his previous laps led count with 133, but overall it was a disappointment. Entering his seventh year of full-time status at the Cup level, it very well could be a make-or-break season for the two-time Xfinity Series champ, or he could be headed to a breakup of his own.
• Jan. 22: Assorted teams
• Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
• Jan. 24: Germain Racing
• Jan. 25: Leavine Family Racing
• Jan 28: Front Row Motorsports
• Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
• Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
• Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
• Feb. 1: Richard Childress Racing
• Feb. 4: Chip Ganasssi Racing
• Feb. 5: Hendrick Motorsports
• Feb. 6: Joe Gibbs Racing
• Feb. 7: Stewart-Haas Racing
• Feb. 8: Team Penske