Team Preview: Roush Fenway Racing

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne will represent Roush Fenway for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Roush Fenway Racing has streamlined its organization this year in hopes of better performance.

The storied operation will field a two-car tandem in 2017 with Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. teaming up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season. After at one time having a five car fleet, the scaled back Roush team believes it can better focus efforts on improvement.

“The downsizing that you’ve seen is a way for us to re-focus those teams and get back to the fundamentals and get them back on the right path,” said Ford’s Dave Pericak. “You don’t want to have so much going on that you can’t focus in areas that you need to focus and fix what you need.’’

The departure of veteran Greg Biffle has left the future of Roush in the hands of two relatively young drivers in Bayne and Stenhouse Jr. 

At 29-years-old, Stenhouse Jr. is the elder statesman of the duo and the two-time XFINITY Series champion believes he’s already seen changes within the team that will lead to better results.

"I'm excited that I've seen progress being made in communication at our shop and everybody seems really motivated to get Jack (Roush) and our partners back to running better, running up front," said Stenhouse, who will have veteran crew chief Brian Pattie guiding the No. 17 team. "We don't show up to the race track not to do that. They've put a lot of hard work into it and we're trying to make up a lot of ground that we've lost over the last couple years.

"Having the focus on two cars is nice. When updates are made throughout the fleet, that process is quicker. The information on the weekend, bouncing ideas off each other, you won’t have as many to get feedback from. It's no different than when Trevor and I were running the XFINITY Series together."

Bayne who is 25, agrees with his teammate’s assessment and is confident the duo that was prominently featured in a “Ricky vs. Trevor” promotional campaign back in their XFINITY Series days can succeed this year at NASCAR’s highest level.

"I think Ricky and I have kind of realized in the last couple of years of being teammates at the Cup level that it's not Ricky versus Trevor anymore, it's Roush Fenway Racing versus everybody else," Bayne said. "We've come alongside each other as teammates and are really gonna push each other this season. I mean, I feel like we started doing that last season and we saw some result from it, but we're gonna learn from each other, we're gonna be humble through it and we're gonna understand that you can learn from each other and we're gonna push our team."

Bayne looks back at last year’s performance that started strong but tailed off in the middle of the schedule as inspiration. He saw improvement as year finished out and looks to build on that foundation for 2017.

"As the season went on, I feel like we did not keep up the way that we wanted to, so what we have to learn is … 'How do you stay motivated and make the gains from Michigan to Homestead that you make in the off-season, that you show up to Atlanta and Daytona with?' That’s what we have to do as a team,” he said.

“It's those summer months that we get to when you really find out what you're made out of and what you can accomplish throughout the rest of the season."

Daytona International Speedway will open for NASCAR teams on Friday, Feb. 17, with the season-opening Daytona 500 scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26. Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" will have live coverage of "The Great American Race" beginning at 1 p.m. (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.

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