Homestead Relief For Roush?
November 14, 2006 | 3:18 P.M. EST
While nobody expected all five of the "Roushkateers" to repeat their feat from one year ago and qualify for the "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup," the 2006 campaign has been a disappointment for the top Ford outfit – even with Matt Kenseth sitting just 63 markers behind championship leader Jimmie Johnson with one race remaining.
The laundry list of problems includes, but is not limited to:
Jamie McMurray, who joined Roush Racing at the end of last season, stuck in 24th place in the championship standings. Should he fail to improve to at least 20th place, this would be the worst showing by a full time Roush Racing driver in over three seasons in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition.
Mark Martin, a loyal Roush disciple since 1988, jumping ship to drive a part time schedule for MB2 Motorsports beginning in 2007.
Four of the five teams within the organization competing with new crew chiefs next season; Pat Tryson moving to Greg Biffle’s No. 16, Jimmy Fennig working with rookie David Ragan, Bob Osborne returning to Carl Edwards’ camp, and a yet-to-be determined leader for Jamie McMurray’s effort in the No. 26.
Doug Richert, current crew chief for Biffle, still unsure of his future – although the team expects him to return in some capacity.
And of course, the unknown potential for Ragan, who just last month had to have his entry pulled from the Atlanta race after several incidents at Martinsville warranted further review of his driving skills by NASCAR.
Nonetheless, Jack Roush isn’t willing to push the panic button quite just yet.
"Of course, if you’re on top, which we were, the conservative nature and the conventional wisdom here is that you want to be slow to make changes because if you fix something that’s not broke, it may not work as well as it was before you fixed it," Roush said. "So for that reason, we’ve been somewhat hesitant to make massive changes and I don’t think massive changes throughout the year have been warranted.
"We have two cars in the chase. We had three the first year, five last year and two this year, so that’s three-and-a-half out of five and that’s certainly more than the number of our teams in the series would justify or dictate."
That doesn’t mean that changes aren’t in order, as can be seen by the various crew chief changes already established for next season. Fortunately for Roush and his organization, there is no better place to start working towards the future than Homestead-Miami Speedway, the site of this weekend’s season finale; the Ford 400.
Since the 1.5-mile track was reconfigured to include variable 18-20 degree banking in 2003, the Roush camp has scored two Bud Pole Awards and two victories, which includes last year’s historic sweep of the top four positions, the first time such an occurrence took place in NASCAR.
"Homestead-Miami Speedway is a Ford racetrack, this is a Ford race, and we have had great success here in the past," Roush said. "I look forward to coming to Homestead because it’s been a track that’s been good to us."
With so many storylines to follow this weekend, keep an eye on the Roush Racing Ford’s this weekend. Their results on Sunday should offer a clear view of what 2007 has in store for the organization.