2007 Team Preview: Roush Racing
January 31, 2007 | 10:58 A.M. EST
But that's exactly the case for Roush Racing.
While Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth did make the "Chase," the other three Roush drivers fell short of expectations.
Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and newcomer Jamie McMurray suffered through a variety of problems and setbacks to put a damper on Roush's 2006 campaign.
This year Roush will face the challenge of replacing Martin, who left the team's No. 6 entry for a shortened Cup schedule with Ginn Racing.
Unproven David Ragan will try to fulfill the lofty task of taking Martin's seat with Kenseth, McMurray, Edwards and Biffle all back in the Roush stable.
"It was OK," Roush said of the 2006 team effort. "It was a great year. OK, it was a good year, it wasn't a great year. We wound up falling short of our mark in several areas, but it was still a year that we can build from and we’ve taken great steps to close the gap and hopefully get back ahead in some of the areas where we weren’t as dominant as we had been previously."
Ragan will be under the spotlight in his first full NEXTEL Cup season, after making a rough debut at the end of 2006. But the young driver is hopeful he can fulfill the promise Roush sees in him.
"I’m still a rookie," Ragan said. "I just turned 21 a few weeks ago, so I feel like I’m getting a little older and also got a lot more pressure on me this year than the last few years to go out and get the job done, but week in and week out I want to get better. I want to try to win some races in the Busch car. I’m not counting it out in the Cup car. I feel like the team is capable of winning races."
Kenseth will be looking to win another series title to go along with his 2003 championship and likes the changes to this year's "Chase" format.
"The only thing about rewarding more points to winning is that I think it’s cool if you win a race early in the year to be able to take those points into the 'Chase' if you make the 'Chase,' Kenseth said. "But I’ve said all along with more points to the winner, I don’t think it’s gonna change the winners of the races. It’s gonna give the winners more points, but I don’t think it’s gonna change the people who win."
Biffle is looking to return to the winning ways of 2005 and is confident the Roush experience factor will get the No. 16 team back on track.
"I think the truck teams ran very well last year and I think the Busch cars are gonna be better this year, and I think we’re right on track with our Cup program, so I think it’s gonna be a good year for us," Biffle said.
McMurray will have veteran crew chief Larry Carter calling the shots for the No. 26 team this year and hopes he can rebound from his dismal first season with Roush.
"I feel like this year we actually have the people in the right place and have a great group of people – from where it starts all the way up to the crew chief – so I’m excited about that part of our program this season," McMurray said.