Editor’s note: Today’s Roush Fenway Racing preview continues NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the NASCAR Cup Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.
ROUSH FENWAY RACING
Engine: Roush Yates
Drivers: Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher
Crew chiefs: Scott Graves (Newman), Luke Lambert (Buescher)
What’s new: Buescher’s return to the Roush Fenway organization brings a fresh start for the 27-year-old driver in an organization with an upward trend after Newman’s playoff berth in 2019. Buescher will pilot the No. 17 Ford Mustang replacing Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who spent all seven of his full-time Cup seasons to date at Roush. Lambert comes over to Roush after spending eight Cup seasons atop the pit box for Richard Childress Racing – he worked with Newman there for five of those seasons.
Team strength: Both Newman and Buescher posted sub-20 average finishes last season, with Buescher’s 17.8 average being the lowest of his career. These two drivers always seem to get the most out of their stuff and finish races as both drivers combined to only not be running at the finish of all but five races last season. Newman finished outside the top 10 only once at superspeedway tracks in 2019.
Racing Insights Number to Know: 17. Roush Fenway Racing had 17 top-10 finishes in 2019, the organization’s most in a season since 2014.
The Action Network Best Bet: I think the market is vastly underrating Chris Buescher in the Daytona 500. Buescher is being priced based as if he’s still driving for JTG Daugherty, while the move to Roush Fenway’s No. 17 car, previously driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., provides a significant upgrade in superspeedway equipment. In fact, Chris Buescher was my first bet for the 2020 Daytona 500. – PJ Walsh
RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Ford:
2019 Stats: Three top fives, 14 top 10s; 14.6 average finish
2020 Championship Odds: 100-1
Fantasy Live Five: Talladega, Richmond, Indianapolis, Daytona, Bristol
Outlook: In his 18th full-time Cup Series season, Newman secured enough points to put the No. 6 car in the NASCAR Playoffs for the first time since 2006. He and crew chief Scott Graves proved to be a solid pairing and their chemistry will likely blossom even more throughout the 2020 season. The duo should be serious playoff contenders again this season – and if Newman can find Victory Lane, they can certainly make a run beyond the Round of 16.
CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Ford:
2019 Stats: Four top 10s, 28 top 20s; highest finish – sixth at Charlotte Motor Speedway
2020 Championship Odds: 300-1
Fantasy Live Five: Daytona, Kansas, Sonoma, Darlington, Watkins Glen
Outlook: Upgraded equipment and an accomplished running mate in the garage brings new energy for Chris Buescher and the No. 17 team. With only four top 10s a season ago, the transition to Roush Fenway should provide an increase in performance and make him a sneaky bet to win his first Cup Series race since 2016. While his best overall odds to win might be at superspeedways, all four of his top 10s last season came at 1.5-mile tracks – so look for him to be a more consistent player week in and week out.
NASCAR.com 2020 team previews schedule
Jan. 20: Teams outside the top 30
Jan. 21: Go Fas Racing
Jan. 22: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 24: Germain Racing
Jan. 27: Leavine Family Racing
Jan. 28: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
Feb. 3: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 4: Chip Ganassi Racing
Feb. 5: Team Penske
Feb. 6: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 7: Joe Gibbs Racing