Roush Fenway Racing has had a rich history in the sport of Sprint Cup Racing since the days that it was known as Jack Roush Racing and fielded only one team with driver Mark Martin. That combination was very successful in the sport and it led to the amazing growth of the organization that at one time had five full-time teams.
In recent years, NASCAR has limited the number of teams that one organization can field to a maximum of four, but Roush Fenway — because of the lack of sponsorship — has now become a three-team operation with drivers Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. What was once one of the real powerhouses in the sport has struggled in recent years to remain a factor in the championship hunt and may be facing some very difficult times in the coming months.
Biffle and Edwards are two of the best in the sport, but both are in the last year of their contracts with Roush and it appears that there is very little to report from either side about the negotiation of a new contract. Either of these two drivers would be high on the list of other owners in the sport looking to replace a driver or add another driver for the 2015 season.
Edwards’s name is already being linked with the formation of a fourth team at Joe Gibbs Racing for next season. Talk of the long-awaited fourth team at JGR is nothing new, but Gibbs insists that it will not commit to a fourth team just because a top driver is available. JGR has been successful with its three teams and it wants to make sure that the entire operation is ready to support a fourth team without hurting the performance of the existing teams.
JGR relies on the technology and engines that it gets from Toyota Racing Development and TRD has said that it has the resources to supply engines for eight Cup teams. Presently TRD provides JGR’s three teams and the three teams of Michael Waltrip Racing, leaving it with the ability of adding up to two new teams next season.
Gibbs is the premier Toyota operation in the sport and getting the support from TRD for a fourth team would not be a problem, but like every other operation in the sport it will more than likely come down to finding the sponsorship for the new team. Finding that one big sponsor that will fund the majority of the season is becoming very difficult to come by and that is apparent as every week some of the biggest names in the sport seem to have a wide array of sponsors’ names on the hood over the course of the season.
Edwards may be the one driver that can attract the needed sponsorship to Gibbs for the addition of a fourth team and it could be that he would like to be reunited with his former Roush teammate Matt Kenseth. The two along with their families were very close when both were at Roush and have remained close.
Biffle doesn’t have the ties with another team that Edwards has, but he has already gone on record as saying that he has options for next season if something can’t be worked out with Roush. Like Edwards, his future could be tied in with the ability of TRD to supply another engine program for an owner. That owner would be Michael Waltrip, who had to take a step back this year after losing long-time sponsor NAPA over Clint Bowyer’s actions in last season’s September race at Richmond.
Of course, all of this only plays out if Roush doesn’t sign the two drivers to a new contract and in the case that they both end up moving on, it is hard to believe that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would become the face of Roush Fenway. Other than Trevor Bayne there are no drivers ready to move up in the Roush camp and Bayne has struggled since he shocked the sport by winning the 2011 Daytona 500. That is why it would seem that signing at least one if not both drivers would be a top priority for Roush.
Event: Coca-Cola 600
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway (1.5-mile quad oval, 240 of banking in the turns)
Date: May 25, 6:15 p.m.
Defending Champ: Kevin Harvick