Roush Fenway Racing Offers Straight Talk
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong
Roush Fenway Racing drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle face high expectations this season. (Photo: Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Two cars in the Chase, three wins and 32 top-10 finishes are numbers some NASCAR Sprint Cup teams aspire to achieve.
Not Roush Fenway Racing. Those totals last season leave a feeling other than satisfaction.
“We have established standards for ourselves that we impose ... that are higher than that, and it’s our expectation that we’re not only competing for wins on a weekly basis, but at the end of the season that we’re right there in the hunt for the championship in both the Nationwide and Cup Series,’’ said Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Racing. “There’s a high level of dissatisfaction with last year because we weren’t there.’’
The numbers Newmark and others at Roush focus on are where the team’s three drivers finished last season - Greg Biffle placed ninth, Carl Edwards 13th and Ricky Stehnouse Jr. 19th.
Thus, Newmark’s forthright assessment Wednesday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour.
Last year was an inconsistent year for the organization, which tied its 2009 season for fewest victories in the last decade.
Another concern is the lack of wins in the Chase among its drivers. Edwards and Biffle each last won a race in the Chase in 2010. Stenhouse, in his first year in Cup last year, didn’t win at all.
“Put that on me,’’ said Robbie Reiser, general manager at Roush Fenway Racing, of the lack of recent Chase wins for those drivers. “That’s my fault that we haven’t run better than that. At the end of the day, I’m responsible for the way we perform and where we go into the Chase with whoever is driving and whatever cars and teams we’ve got. They should be able to go out and win those races.
“I have to get our company up to the caliber that is the same caliber that Carl Edwards is and Greg Biffle is and they can go out and win races.’’
Despite the struggles, Biffle says that the team shouldn’t push aside what happened last year.
“It’s motivation for this year,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be better, no matter what ... and we’re going to do what it takes.’’
The team’s three wins last year came at Phoenix (Edwards), Michigan (Biffle) and Richmond (Edwards). Despite the Michigan win, Biffle admits the team was not as strong as past years on intermediate tracks.
Biffle said the team struggled with the getting the car low and keeping it there on runs. He said NASCAR’s elimination of the ride height rule - which required cars to be a certain level off the ground before and after races - could be meaningful for the organization.
“If you named four things that were different between (Roush), Hendrick and Gibbs, well, that’s one of them where I feel they did a little better job than we did, which is equivalent to a faster intermediate program,’’ Biffle said.
“We looked at the pictures (of their cars) and we think they were a little better than we were. Their car was lower and more consistent. We were moving around more. We were struggling in the driver’s seat. Eliminating the ride height rule, we are hoping ... that that’s going to play into our hands.’’
And help give them better results than last season.