Tag: Roush Fenway Racing

Sadler Should Do Good With Roush Fenway In 2015, Not Great

There was a time when Roush Fenway Racing was brought up, in respect to the Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY) Series you could say it was dominate. Mark Martin spent many years winning a lot of races for the team, then Carl Edwards stepped in and kept the train rolling, and then there was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. picking up back to back championships.

As with their Sprint Cup Series effort, dominate is not the word I would use to describe the team. I’m not sure what exactly the word would be because whenever I think they’re down and out, the team comes through with a good performance.

Announced for 2015 is veteran Elliott Sadler joining the organization to drive alongside Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher. There should be a bump in performance given Sadler’s experience, currently Trevor Bayne is the most experience driver in the stable, but I’m not expecting miracles for Sadler or his teammates.

Sadler is a puzzle of a driver right now. He’s’ shown the ability to get it done, but for some reason or another there is no consistency. When he drove for Richard Childress Racing from 2011 to 2012, he was in the thick of the championship hunt and won races. That relationship eroded and he left knocking on the door for a title.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2011 34 5 0 12 24 181 8.7 9.8 2
2012 33 4 4 15 24 366 6.7 7.6 2

Joining Joe Gibbs Racing, a team that dominates week in and week out thanks to Kyle Busch, you figured he would make that next step to champion. The results, including this year, have been disappointing and are likely why Sadler will be in his third team in four years. He finally got a win this season at Talladega, but has been lackluster everywhere else.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2013 33 0 0 9 20 150 12.1 11.2 4
2014 30 1 1 6 22 148 9.2 9.7 4

Looking at his performance versus his future team and you see the numbers are not drastically that far from each other. Buescher added a win this year, Bayne has yet to break through, but has a pole, and Reed has spent the year learning the ropes.

Driver Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
Reed 30 0 0 1 1 29 17.3 16.5 9
Bayne 30 1 0 5 20 62 11.9 10.6 6
Buescher 29 0 1 4 13 57 11.3 12.9 7
Sadler 30 1 1 6 22 148 9.2 9.7 4

That is why when you mash the numbers up to predict what Sadler could do with Roush Fenway Racing, the results are about where he is now with Joe Gibbs Racing. Granted, there are factors we won’t know for a while, including the makeup of Sadler’s team, but on paper it’s a lateral move.

Year Starts Poles Wins Top-5s Top-10s Led AvgSt AvgFin Rank
2015 33 1 1 7 17 130 11.3 11.3 5

I expect Sadler to compete from time to time, be consistent, which will lead to him being near the top of the standings, but that will be deceiving. I don’t see him as a legitimate title contender at this point, like he was with Richard Childress Racing.

A Few Crazy Scenarios For 2015 Free Agency In NASCAR

It’s only May, roughly three months into the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the jockeying for 2015 free agents might begin soon. Hendrick Motorsports announced that Nationwide Insurance would sponsor Dale Earnhardt, Jr. starting in 2015 on Friday and it’s a move that impacts two teams at minimum.

Nationwide Insurance will move from Roush Fenway Racing, where it has sponsored Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. the past two years. Stenhouse already has glaring holes in his sponsorship for 2014, this will just add to that issue for 2015 and beyond. Looking at RFR as a whole, both Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are unsigned beyond the 2014 season.

At Hendrick Motorsports, bringing in Nationwide brings up questions about what happens to Kasey Kahne. Currently he has Farmers Insurance as his sponsor, their contract expires at the close of 2014, and not many could picture two rival insurance companies sponsoring cars coming out of the same shop.

Having rivals sponsors has happened in the past, a good example is found at Richard Childress Racing where they are sponsored, as a team, by Lucas Oil. At the same time driver Paul Menard has Quaker State on his car and is featured from time to time because of the connections between his sponsor, Menards, and Quaker State. This was also the case when Kevin Harvick drove a Shell/Pennzoil sponsored car with Menard as a teammate.

If Farmers does not return and a replacement is not found, does Hendrick look elsewhere? It’s no secret that Kahne has not lived up to expectations so far this season and honestly, has come up short on what many thought to be a dream pairing with him and Hendrick Motorsports. His contract runs through 2015, but could he be bought out a year early to make room for another driver with sponsorship?

Could that other driver be Hendrick developmental driver Chase Elliott? He has backing from NAPA and has been shocking the Nationwide Series with two wins and a second place finish in the last three races. The plan seems to have Elliott replace Jeff Gordon when he retires, but there is no timeline to when that could be. I think it would be a mistake to bring Elliott up too fast, as in next season or even the year after, but if the sponsor requests it, it could happen. That’s what got Joey Logano into the Sprint Cup Series before he was ready. The Home Depot wanted him in the car and Joe Gibbs Racing obliged.

An off the wall scenario could find Carl Edwards in play for the Hendrick ride if they decide to go in another direction. Edwards made it known he wants to be top dog at Roush Fenway Racing, which played into Matt Kenseth’s departure, but the team hasn’t performed how many expected. They have improved this season, but sponsorship questions continue to linger year after year and Edwards might want to jump ship.

It might be too early to get a good feel on how this might all shake out, but it will keep things entertaining for the rest of the season. I can’t see Hendrick bailing on Kahne just yet, but if he continues to be so far behind his teammates it will lead to some serious discussions. For Edwards, I can’t believe Ford or Roush would let him walk to another team, especially a Chevrolet back team, so look for them to throw a lot of money at him to keep him locked up. All this excitement and we still have Talladega to look forward to this Sunday.

The Unstable World Of NASCAR Ownership

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With the recent demise of Swan Racing, it got me thinking about the ownership landscape of NASCAR. It seems every year we see a team come in and leave within a year or two. Only a handful of organizations have stood up to the test of time. Here are my survival theories.

To get an idea of how unstable the world of NASCAR ownership is, I took a look back to 1990 and noted what teams were in the Daytona 500 for that year. Granted, some drivers missed the show and ran the rest of the year, but I used that race as my baseline. From there I looked at five year intervals going all the way up to 2014.

The 1990 Daytona 500 list reveals only four teams that existed then still competed in 2014;and one team technically still operates, but has gone through a ton of mergers. The four teams are Richard Childress Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Wood Brothers Racing. At the time Childress only fielded a single entry for Dale Earnhardt; Hendrick ran three teams; Roush had only one car; and the Wood Brothers had their single entry.

Of those four organizations, both Roush and Childress had to get outside help/investment in their teams during the past decade. Though crew members, drivers, and management all change year to year, the business ownership entity has stayed the same over the years. Hendrick Motorsports and Wood Brothers Racing are the only two to have their teams 100 % intact. Going one step further, the Wood Brothers no longer run full schedules. This leaves Hendrick Motorsports as the only team to keep their team intact since 1990.

Another team with this group is SABCO Racing (then later Team SABCO) owned by Felix Sabates. They ran the #42 Pontiac for Kyle Petty in 1990 where Sabates ran the team for many years before bringing in Chip Ganassi in 2001. From there the team re-branded itself as Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. In 2008, the team merged with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. to become Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Finally this year, they divested themselves of the Earnhardt name to go back to Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

Like most teams, Ganassi has seen its organization go from one car up to as many as four, then back down to the current two car operation. Roush started as one car before moving to two then up to five at one point. Currently they operate only three cars. Hendrick has been four cars since 2002 when the organization added Jimmie Johnson, although they have campaigned more in select races. Childress has constantly bounced from three to four cars the past decade without much success with each expansion.

There are two organizations that missed the cut of 1990 that have campaigned cars for over 20 years now, those being Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske. Neither has brought in investors, although Team Penske has acquired teams in order to expand. In 1998 they purchased Michael Kranefuss’ team and then in 2004 they acquired Doug Bawel’s Jasper Motorsports team.

In 1990, 40 of the 42 cars in the Daytona 500 we single car efforts. Only Hendrick Motorsports had more than one entry that race. By 1995 that number decreased slightly to 38 independent teams. By 2000 that number dropped to 27, in 2005 it hit the lowest point at which 20 teams now made up the 43 finishers of the Daytona 500. That number went up to 21 for 2010 and 2014.

Starting from 1990 the number of teams who entered a car in that Daytona 500 to 1995 was 22, so 18 teams disappeared (or missed the race). In 2000 16 teams returned, although organizations like Roush Fenway Racing went from two cars in 1995 to four in 2000. For 2005, the number dipped down to 14, but the worst showing was going to 2010 when only nine teams came back.

That was by far the worst stretch, as teams like Dale Earnhardt, Inc. merged with MB2 Motorsports and then Chip Ganassi Racing, going from eight teams among them down to two. Ray Evernham Motorsports was bought by George Gillette then merged into Petty Enterprises to make Richard Petty Motorsports. Another set of moves that took five teams out of operation and replaced them with only two running now. In the last four year gap of 2010 to 2014, 16 teams came back out of the 21 that entered a car in the Daytona 500.

No one has ever gotten rich from running a race team from the local level up to the NASCAR leagues. Team owners pour millions of dollars into their teams with little to no return; just ask Kyle Busch or Rusty Wallace how team ownership goes. Where organizations like Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, and Joe Gibbs Racing have made their money has been outsourcing services.

Rusty_Wallace

Hendrick Motorsports sells chassis, engines, and technical support to other organizations who race in NASCAR, most notably Stewart-Haas Racing. Roush Fenway Racing created Roush Yates Engines and makes money with that venture among others. Joe Gibbs Racing has developed racing products that they sell to secondary markets.

The key to ownership is having sponsors for one, but also the ability to make other revenue streams into your organization. This is simple business concepts, but unfortunately teams like Swan Racing can’t get the sponsorship that will allow them the foundation on which to set the organization. A great example is even the great empire that is Red Bull Racing, who spends money like crazy in Formula 1 but could not cut it in NASCAR, no matter how much they spent.

NASCAR, and racing in general, is a tough sport because so much is dependent on having the funds to compete for sponsorships. Unless there is a way to cap costs, teams will come and go, and we will even see a time where the mightiest team can just be a distant memory.

A Look Back: Mark Martin

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With it most likely being Mark Martin’s final drive this weekend when the green flag comes out for the Ford EcoBoost 400 this Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Start ‘N’ Park Blog takes a look back through the years. Below you’ll find photographs from Martin’s career as well as his Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series career stats.

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Mark_Martin_Folgers_Car

 

Mark_Martin_Valvoline

 

Mark_Martin_Winn_Dixie

 

2009-Phoenix-Apr-NSCS-Mark-Martin-gets-checkered-flag.

Biffle Won’t Be Cutting Johnson Any Slack

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Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts anytime soon after their run in at Martinsville in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. Biffle was positioned in the top-10 when contact from Johnson sent him spinning.

While there was minimal damage to Biffle’s car, the real damage was having to go to the back of the line after pitting. He did have a strong enough car to work his way back to a ninth place finish, but it could have been a lot better had that not happened.

After the race Biffle got to Johnson to explain his frustration. “Hey, you tore my rear bumper off, you (expletive),” said Biffle. Johnson contended he was next to Biffle, but Biffle warned him he’d “better watch it.”  In the end it was a case of agreeing to disagree over the incident.

With three races to go and Johnson neck and neck for the title, it’ll be interesting to see if Biffle cuts him any slack in the coming weeks.  Drivers tend to have very long memories and if it’s not this season, it could go into next.

What’s Pastrana’s Future?

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All indications are that Travis Pastrana will return to Roush Fenway Racing to make another go at the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014. The biggest question mark surrounding the former X-Games standout is where is he going with this NASCAR endeavor?

Jack Roush, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, talked openly this past week about his desires for a fourth Sprint Cup Series for next season. He has a sponsor and driver he’s trying to put together for that spot. If that falls through, the plan is to continue to develop their young talent to get into a fourth car.

The names he dropped as the “young talent” were Trevor Bayne and Chris Buescher. There was no mention of Pastrana. Then you look at the recent signing of 20-year old Ryan Reed to run in the Nationwide Series as another indication of young talent he’s collecting.

While the 29-year old Pastrana isn’t exactly over the hill, he’s not exactly setting the world on fire in his first full season of Nationwide racing. Through 30 starts, Pastrana has one pole, no wins or top-5s, 4 top-10s, an average finish of 21.1, and5 DNFs. All five DNFs have been from accidents. Heck, the running joke among many people on Twitter is a race isn’t official until Pastrana spins.

Most drivers might be worried that they have no sponsors on the car and have seemingly gone nowhere during the season. Pastrana does have sponsorship, Red Bull and DC Shoes, but they opt not to have their logos on the Roush Fenway Racing Ford. It sounds like they’re good for coming back next year, but if Pastrana is serious about NASCAR, he might want to look for another team that is going to develop him versus cashing his checks.

Edwards Seeks Home Turf Advantage

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Carl Edwards is coming to the Kansas Speedway looking for the home advantage. The Columbia, MO native has a best finish of 2nd at his home track, but that was back in 2008. In 12 starts he has zero wins, four top-5s, eight top-10s, and an average finish of 11.3.

After finishing 35th last weekend at the Dover International Speedway, Edwards is looking to regroup, and gain back the points he lost.

“I have not heard the very final ruling of exactly what happened (in Dover), but, basically, we had a wheel that came loose and was loose enough that it broke the studs off of the left-rear, so when I pulled in the first time we only had two studs on there.  We kind of got everything tightened up as best we could and just tried to roll around, but it wasn’t gonna work.  So the guys changed a hub in 13 laps under green, which was pretty good, but we still don’t know if it was a manufacturing problem.  I don’t think it was my tire changer.  He does a great job and all the data showed that he had it tight, so it’s just one of those things in racing that can happen.  It’s very, very frustrating,” Edwards explained to media members Thursday from the track.

Edwards and his team are not quitting on this season. They believe they can still make noise in the Chase.

There’s a lot of racing left.  If we can go out and if our speed today is any indication, if we can go out and possibly win this race and win a couple races, and if these guys (the 20) had some trouble, it could happen.  Anything can happen, so the biggest thing is when I got back to the shop Jimmy Fennig looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘Look, I don’t quit.  We’re going here to win this thing and that’s it.  Until we can’t, we will.’  So that’s all you can do,” said Edwards.

Step one in the plan to rebound was testing on Thursday at the track, due to extreme weather changes, information gathered that day might not translate.

“We didn’t spend any time in qualifying trim, and the conditions changed throughout the whole test session, so, like I said, beating Matt Kenseth here is probably the biggest thing I could have done.  I think the temperature is gonna be a big factor and it’s also supposed to possibly rain on Friday night, so we might see the same problem Saturday trying to get the cars tuned in with the changing track,” commented Edwards.

The Hollywood Casino 400 gets under way Sunday at 2 PM EST, and can be seen on ESPN.