The news today that Roush Fenway Racing will no longer have a NASCAR Xfinity Series program is depressing. Jack Roush has been in this series forever. He has won two championships in the last ten seasons (two with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.). He also had wins in the Busch Series era, with Greg Biffle in 2002 and Carl Edwards in 2007. Roush has been in 1,698 races in the series alone over the last 24 seasons. Now, they will have none and it is time for a massive change in direction.
The problems facing Roush Fenway Racing were not just on the Xfinity Series level, but on the Cup level as well. We have seen that the once majestic five-car powerhouse is now down to a two team fringe operation of the 17 and the 6 car. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has shown improvement, though they took a step back in 2018 after winning two races in 2017. Trevor Bayne has departed Roush Fenway and is being replaced by Ryan Newman, serving as a veteran presence.
The talent Stenhouse has is ever present. He has the ability to drive a car, but not in the best equipment. After hard times in the lower series in 2010, Stenhouse turned his career around and won back to back championships in the Nationwide Series. He won two races on brute racing force on restrictor plate tracks (Talladega and Daytona in 2017). Stenhouse has pure talent and due to Roush Fenway’s struggles, he has not had the opportunity to compete regularly. The speed in qualifying is there, but racing is going mediocre. Now, we need a change.
Roush and Ford have been tied together at the hip for 32 seasons. However, while Penske and Stewart-Haas are getting stronger and stronger in Fords, Roush Fenway has been failing. Their alliance is with Front Row Motorsports, which is also kind of stagnant. A gutsy move would be for both of them to leave the Ford program. Both programs are extremely stagnant. Both would benefit from a change. That change should be to the bowtie or a Toyota logo.
We do not know yet what the 2019 season brings in the Ford camp. It could easily be a season like Chevrolet had in 2018. It could be a season like the Chevrolet Monte Carlo in 1995, when it just came on the scene and went bananas. However, if it turns into a 2018 Chevrolet, both programs risk more stagnation. Sometimes, a manufacturer change is a risk that needs to be made. This writer suggests Toyota.
Toyota has tons of drivers and not enough rides for the drivers that they produce. They risk losing more drivers like William Byron and Noah Gragson. Roush Fenway has room. They need sponsorships, but Toyota’s program strength would help enormously. They can give new lifeblood that Roush Fenway can use, especially as Matt Kenseth begins to take over the reins of the team.
It is time for a change in Roush Fenway Racing, even if it is out of nowhere.
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