Team Preview: Roush Fenway Racing
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on February 8, 2014 | 10:00 A.M. EST
There's a foundation to build on from last year's performance and RFR is committed to find what it takes to return to its more competitive days. (Photo: Getty Images)
After a year that saw two of its drivers make the Chase and the third win Sprint Cup Series Rookie-of-the-Year honors, you'd think everything was peachy at Roush Fenway Racing. Well despite those 2013 successes, the team readily admits it must become more competitive in order to be the the championship picture this season.
Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle both won races last year and qualified for the Chase. But once the playoff schedule began, neither was able to mount a serious charge to bring team owner Jack Roush a title. So RFR went to work in the off-season to get better.
"We’ve been working really hard on it," said General manager Robbie Reiser. "There are a lot of people talking up here about what we’re doing and where we’re going, but at the end of the day this thing is about winning races and winning championships and putting ourselves in that position."
While most of the Edwards and Biffle teams remain intact, Stenhouse has a new crew chief in Mike Kelley, who helped lead him to consecutive Nationwide Series championships.
There's a foundation to build on from last year's performance and RFR is committed to find what it takes to return to its more competitive days.
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
Drivers: Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford), Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 17 Ford)
Crew Chiefs: Jimmy Fennig (Edwards), Greg Puccia (Biffle), Mike Kelley (Stenhouse Jr.)
3 - Number of top 10 finishes by Stenhouse Jr. in his rookie season
10 - Years since Roush Fenway Racing won its last Sprint Cup title (Kurt Busch, 2004)
21 - Number of career Sprint Cup Series wins for Edwards
What’s New: Mike Kelley is reunited with Stenhouse Jr. after the two won a pair of Nationwide Series titles in 2011 and 2012.
What They’re Saying
Edwards: "We did really well in the regular season last year. We won a couple of races, but for Robbie Reiser, Jack Roush, Jimmy Fennig and our whole team our mission is to win the championship."
Biffle: "Winning a title, whether I’ve won the other titles or not, I think the goal of any driver is to win a Sprint Cup title. We’ve come very close a few times. I feel like this year we’re really aligned well. Maybe the new format will play into our hands a little bit."
Keys to Season
The bread and butter of RFR used to be its 1.5-mile program. But that performance has waned in recent years and the new NASCAR intermediate track package will challenge the team's quest in trying to improve. The RFR engine program also needs to pick up in the speed department and allow the Blue Oval brigade to keep pace with their Chevrolet and Toyota counterparts.
Edwards and Biffle proved they were capable of still winning last year and under the new Chase format that will be enough to get them into the playoff race. But they'll need to find a way to not fall off the radar once September rolls around. The reunion between Stenhouse Jr. and Kelley should up the 17 team's performance as well and a win is also not out of the question. However it remains to be seen whether any of the trio can be considered legitimate title contenders.