PHOENIX, Ariz. — Blog by Race Chaser Online West Coast Correspondent Ryan O’Hara — Getty Images photo — Over the past several years, much has been made regarding the decline of Roush Fenway Racing due to lack its lack of competitiveness, loss of sponsorship, and the loss of two of the organization’s finest talents, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
While I can admit that I was one of the folks in the racing community that thought Roush Fenway Racing was heading towards a path similar to Robert Yates Racing, I can say that I was wrong. There are several reasons to point out why Roush Fenway Racing could be better than ever in the coming years. It may be true that RFR is declining right now, but may well end tonight heading to the track where their star, Carl Edwards, is the defending winner — Bristol Motor Speedway.
Greg Biffle, a 16-year veteran at Roush Fenway Racing, said earlier last week that the team was starting to turn the tables over. With the addition of Mark Martin as a driver development coach, the signs that this team will soon be able to compete with the empires of Hendrick and Penske are beginning to show again. At this juncture, they certainly have the talent and the longevity, given the average age of their drivers in the two premier levels in NASCAR is 27.
If Roush has indeed found the solution to their technical setbacks, they have a powerful lineup for 2015 — a lineup that includes young drivers like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. In addition, with a farm system including Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher, Roush is taking an approach similar to how the Arizona Diamondbacks traded off their veterans in favor of young players to invest in the future.
The future of this organization was put on full display during the Nationwide Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Chris Buescher was by no means dominant, but he kept you thinking, “He might have a shot.” Buescher fooled all of us on strategy, holding off Regan Smith and Brian Scott for his first career NASCAR victory.
If any of the Cup drivers fail to make progress, Roush Fenway has potential in Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed, who are both just 21 years young.
Martin’s return came at an opportune time for Roush Fenway Racing, especially for the Nationwide Series drivers. The road courses tend to be races that deal the biggest points blows on the schedule. Martin was a three-time road course winner in the Cup series, giving him ample information to be able to pass on to his young charges. In addition, having a veteran around a young organization is imperative in a retooling process.
Roush knows that Ford has not won a manufacturers championship in the past 11 years. The past decade has been dominated by Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet, a streak that Roush desperately wants to erase.
Team Penske was able to form a technical alliance with Wood Brothers Racing, which will allow Ryan Blaney to run a partial schedule in the No. 21 next season. Could Roush persuade a team like Germain Racing to turn back to the Ford camp? And if so, could perhaps Ryan Reed or Chris Buescher get some valuable time behind the wheel of a Cup car as a result?
Keep in mind, drivers like Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, and Kurt Busch were not championship caliber drivers when they arrived on the circuit. Jack Roush put them into that category because he does not give up on people that have potential and work hard. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better, which is the ultimate patience test.
Roush is still not competitive enough to make a championship run again, but businesses love people who can think big picture. In the next couple of years, we are going to see a brand new team — a team that is not here just to win one race.
They’ll be coming to win another championship.