Roush Fenway Racing unveiled a 2015 lineup that features Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. All three drivers describe the struggles of the team in 2014 and talk about what they are working on to make the upcoming season a success.
After rejecting 'easy' decision to leave, veteran embraces team's new outlook Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- For all the change that Roush Fenway Racing has undergone entering the 2015 NASCAR season, Greg Biffle remains the organization's constant, a cornerstone driver who first started his career with team owner Jack Roush in the Camping World Truck Series in 1998. But with the team firmly in rebuilding mode after its recent slide toward substandard performance, Biffle shed light on just how close he came to following the path of two prominent former teammates out the door. Biffle plumbed the depths of the company's recent low points Wednesday during the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom, saying that he had fielded offers from "great teams" to drive elsewhere. Ultimately, the 45-year-old driver made the choice to stay, in an effort to help lead the team out of its dark days. "You know, loyalty in this world only goes so far," Biffle said. "… I felt like I had to wrestle with the decision on whether I leave or not. It makes it easy to leave, it's easy to kick a guy when he's down, right? So we were having tremendous trouble last year, and I've been there through three of these cycles, and we're not going to sugar-coat it -- last year, we were at the bottom of the heap compared to the teams. We just were, and no light at the end of the tunnel, and so it would've been an easy way for me to leave at that point. "But knowing that the stock is at the lowest price that it's been at, sometimes that's the opportunity. It's going to go up. It doesn't have to, but logic says it's going to go up, and so I wrestled with it and sat long and hard about it and said, 'I want to be the guy that brings this organization back out of where we're at. We're in a bad place. I could jump ship right now.' And I decided I didn't want to do that. I was going to give it another opportunity." Biffle's tenure with Roush Fenway includes an enviable collection of career highlights -- 19 victories in the top-level Sprint Cup Series and championships in both the XFINITY Series (2002) and the truck circuit (2000). Even though he managed to qualify for last season's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, his losing streak stretched to 57 -- nearing the longest dry spell of his career. Only Carl Edwards won races at the Sprint Cup level for RFR last year, and he departed in the offseason to restart his career at Joe Gibbs Racing . That move followed a similar career shift by Matt Kenseth -- another longtime Roush Fenway competitor -- just two years earlier. Biffle could've been the third domino to fall, but even with all the frayed emotions, the connections he'd established over the years kept him from severing those ties. "I stayed for relationships and things that I had built for a long period of time that I really cared about, and that was one of my decisions that really weighed on me to stay," Biffle said. "After I elected to stay, other people didn't and so I was left holding the bag a little bit, but I can't say enough about the partnerships that we've created since then. "I can talk forever about what's gone on, and I hate to keep -- so to speak, the cliché -- beat the dead horse. We all recognized the position we were in last year. We were drowning and we were trying to get to the surface, and it was difficult on all of us. All the relationships were all taxed, between me and my crew chief, the other drivers, the team engineers, the simulation group, and then fabrication, the guys hanging the (car) bodies. We were all taxed because we were not performing." Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark admitted that the offseason mission of rebuilding the team's stature in the sport had come with some soul searching. The organization has made plenty of offseason strides to meet the goals -- primarily through digging to the root cause of what went wrong in 2014 and closing the gap on its rivals in the technology department. But it's also revamped its mindset in more subtle ways, freshening the look of the shop and bringing it up to more state-of-the-art standards. Even though the overhaul has been dramatic, Newmark said losing Biffle was a change the team couldn't afford to withstand. "It was critical," Newmark said. "Greg and I spent a lot of time talking. He was solicited by a lot of teams, which I would expect with a driver of that caliber. After a lot of the discussions, I think he felt like Roush was the right fit for him and the right place, and he and Jack had some unfinished business. But he brings an element that we wouldn't have had without him. We have a lot of other talented drivers, but none of them has had the history with both our organization and the championships, so he's been fantastic." Though Biffle cracked in his opening remarks that Jack Roush , 72, had been racing Ford products since 1901, it's clear the team has begun to skew younger as it enters its 28th year in NASCAR. Biffle will race alongside third-year driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., 27, and 23-year-old Trevor Bayne , promoted to his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series. Change isn't all bad, as Biffle was quick to mention the championship fruits of the first-year partnership between Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing last season. Taken a step further, Biffle said Roush Fenway's expectations equal those of the title-winning No. 4 team. "We're all that confident," Biffle said. "We all feel that good that that's the position we're in now. Everyone's so excited about the way our company looks, about how everybody's getting along and how excited everybody is to work together again, and on a common goal. We all feel really good." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Driver set to compete in NASCAR XFINITY Series Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final standings this past season and a graduate of NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity initiatives, will compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2015 for Roush Fenway Racing , according to RFR officials. Wallace, 21, will join drivers Chris Buescher , Ryan Reed and Elliott Sadler in the RFR lineup. Wallace will pilot the organization's No. 6 Ford Mustang previously driven by Trevor Bayne . Additional team personnel and sponsorship will be announced at a later date. "I've had a remarkable journey over the last few years thanks to people who have put me in a position to win the races that I have," Wallace said. "When I first joined the sport, many said I would never compete with the real drivers. Now, as I join the winningest (XFINITY) team in NASCAR history, I take that as a responsibility to add more wins to the team's legacy and help tear down the barriers for the next generation of NASCAR drivers." Wallace won five races from 2013-14 while competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports, scoring four this past season. RELATED: Bubba done with KBM as team announces 2015 lineup In 2013, he became the first African American driver to win a NASCAR national series event in 50 years when he won his first Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway . This past year, he successfully defended his title while driving an entry whose paint scheme and number 34 paid tribute to NASCAR's first African American winner, Wendell Scott. Wallace made six career Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY ) Series starts for Joe Gibbs Racing , with whom he was under contract, between 2012-14. He finished in the top 10 in four of those starts, with a best finish of seventh at Iowa (in 2012) and Daytona (2014). However, without sponsorship to remain at KBM, and with no funding for him at JGR in the XFINITY Series, Wallace asked for and was granted his release earlier this month. RFR president Steve Newmark said Wallace "is viewed in industry circles as one of the brightest young drivers." "He has a charismatic personality and at the same time has exhibited the ability to win on the race track," Newmark said. "We are looking forward to getting him in our race cars next season." In addition to the four XFINITY Series teams, Roush Fenway also fields teams in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series for drivers Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Greg Biffle . Bayne, who is making the move up to compete full time in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015, finished sixth in the Nationwide Series this past season, while Buescher, who won once, was seventh and Reed ninth. Sadler spent the previous two seasons at JGR, finishing fourth in 2013 and third this past year. RELATED: Wallace Jr. receives release from JGR Roush Fenway Racing's XFINITY Series program is the winningest in NASCAR, having earned 133 victories. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (2011-12), Carl Edwards (2007) and Biffle (2002) have won series championships for the group. "We are certainly pleased to have Bubba Wallace come on board," team co-owner Jack Roush said. "He is certainly a great young talent and I feel it will be mutually beneficial for us to be able to put him into a team environment with a veteran driver like Elliott (Sadler) and the young guys Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed . "We have had a great deal of history in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and we are happy to have Bubba as the latest piece of that rich legacy." The addition of Wallace to the Ford camp is a boost for the automaker as well. "We're thrilled to have Bubba Wallace be part of our Ford Mustang racing efforts," said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing . "His winning performances since becoming part of NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program have certainly made him one of the drivers in the sport to watch in the future, and we think he can bring a lot to Roush Fenway and Ford, both on and off the track." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Team hires Mark McArdle and Kevin Kidd to senior positions RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Seeking to bolster its Sprint Cup Series performance in 2015, Roush Fenway Racing announced the hirings of Mark McArdle and Kevin Kidd to senior competition positions with the organization. McArdle will oversee engineering for the organization's Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series teams as the team's engineering director, while Kidd will serve as the Sprint Cup Series team manager, supervising at-track operations. Kidd will move into his new role at the conclusion of the 2014 season. "I'm confident that having Mark and Kevin in two key positions will make our organization even stronger next season," team co-owner Jack Roush said in a team release. "Mark has a pedigree in racing that spans multiple platforms and speaks for itself in terms of results. He has a reputation not only for success, but as a great manager and motivator. "Kevin is recognized in the garage area as one of the brightest minds in our sport," Roush said. "He has acquired invaluable experience working with both veteran and drivers, and will be a great asset to our Sprint Cup program week in and week out at the race track. We look forward to bringing both Mark and Kevin on board and welcoming them into the fold." McArdle has spent the past 15 years working in NASCAR, most recently working as the director of racing operation at Richard Childress Racing . He is also known for his work in the IndyCar circuit and as an engine builder. He boasts three victories in the Indianapolis 500 with Penske Racing in 1991, 1993 and 1994. Kidd has served as the crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing 's No. 20 Nationwide Series car since 2010. In that time, he has three wins atop the pit box. Roush Fenway's race teams will look a little different next season as previously announced. On the Sprint Cup side, Trevor Bayne will make the move to a full-time Cup ride with the No. 6 car, while Greg Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . will remain in the No. 16 and No. 17 cars respectively. In the XFINITY Series, Ryan Reed (No. 16) and Chris Buescher (No. 60) will be joined by veteran driver Elliott Sadler , who will pilot the No. 1 Ford. Sadler's move was announced last weekend. Roush Fenway has one driver left in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in Carl Edwards , who is heading to Joe Gibbs Racing next season. Edwards is currently sixth in the standings but just one point out of the final transfer spot to the Championship Round heading into Sunday's Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) at Phoenix International Raceway . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Widespread changes ahead for Roush Fenway Racing in 2015 MORE: See who is on the move for 2015 Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief Bob Osborne will return to the pit box in 2015, as Roush Fenway Racing officials have announced their 2015 driver/crew chief lineup for the Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series. Osborne, who guided former RFR driver Carl Edwards to 18 Sprint Cup victories between 2004 and 2012, will serve as crew chief for Trevor Bayne and the No. 6 RFR Ford team in the Sprint Cup Series. The move was one of two lineup changes announced involving RFR Sprint Cup teams. In addition to the return of Osborne, Nick Sandler, former lead engineer under Jimmy Fennig on the No. 99 team of Edwards, has been named crew chief for Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and the No. 17 team. He replaces Mike Kelley, who will serve as car chief for the Stenhouse team. Veteran driver Greg Biffle will once again be teamed with crew chief Greg Puccia. In a release announcing the changes, team co-owner Jack Roush said the organization was excited about the 2015 crew chief lineup. "Much like our driver lineup, our crew chief assembly features a quality mix of veteran leadership and youthful insight," Roush said. "We feel this lineup, combined with the addition of Kevin Kidd to oversee our Sprint Cup efforts, is a big step forward in the direction of placing our teams up front and contending week-in and week-out." Osborne, 40, helped guide Edwards to four top-five points finishes during his previous tenure with the team, including runner-up finishes in 2008 and '11. In July of 2012, he stepped down from his role due to health reasons but has remained an important part of the RFR engineering team. "Bob Osborne is a proven commodity," Roush said. "He will bring a strong veteran presence to the No. 6 … team, as Trevor Bayne makes the transition to full-time Sprint Cup racing ." Bayne finished sixth in points in the XFINITY Series in 2013-14 with RFR, while also running a limited Sprint Cup Series schedule with Wood Brothers Racing . The Knoxville, Tennessee native won the 2011 Daytona 500 while paired with the Wood Brothers. Stenhouse Jr., twice a NASCAR Nationwide (now XFINITY ) Series champion, has struggled since making the move to Sprint Cup in 2013. Initially paired with crew chief Scott Graves, he finished 19th in points. Kelley, who steered Stenhouse Jr. to the two titles, was brought on board for 2014, but Stenhouse fell to 27th in points. Sandler, a native of Asheville, North Carolina, "has a strong engineering background with the company," said Roush , "and his time working hand-in-hand with Jimmy Fennig over the past few seasons will prove invaluable as the takes the helm of the No. 17." Fennig, the long-time crew chief who stepped down at the end of '14, has been named research and development coordinator for RFR. Fennig was the 2004 championship-winning crew chief with driver Kurt Busch . Included among his 40 career wins as a crew chief are two Daytona 500 victories -- in 1988 with NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bobby Allison and in 2012 with Matt Kenseth . "Jimmy's experience is unparalleled in our sport and I anticipate his input in this new role will have a major influence in a positive direction across the board with all of our teams going forward," Roush said. For the XFINITY Series, the driver/crew chief pairings of Ryan Reed and Seth Barbour, Chris Buescher and Scott Graves will remain unchanged. Elliott Sadler , who made the move from Joe Gibbs Racing to RFR during the offseason, will be paired with Phil Gould, former crew chief for Brian Scott at Richard Childress Racing . And Darrell Wallace Jr ., third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings last season with Kyle Busch Motorsports, will be paired with crew chief Chad Norris as he runs an XFINITY Series slate for the organization. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Drivers Darrell Wallace Jr., Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler talk about the upcoming 2015 season with Roush Fenway Racing at the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour.
Veteran to pilot No. 1 Ford in XFINITY Series RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today Elliott Sadler will join Roush Fenway Racing in 2015 to compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, according to the organization and sponsor OneMain Financial. Sadler, currently competing for Joe Gibbs Racing , will pilot the No. 1 RFR Ford. A 10-time winner in the series, he is fourth in points heading into Saturday’s O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET). "It's an honor to remain with OneMain Financial next year," Sadler said. "I’m thrilled for the opportunity to race under the OneMain Financial banner and team up with Roush Fenway Racing to compete for the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship in 2015." The 39-year-old Sadler has 260 career starts in the series with 16 poles and 128 top-10 finishes. He is also a three-time winner in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. He is one of 24 drivers to win at least one race in each of NASCAR’s three national series (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series). OneMain, previously CitiFinancial, has a prior sponsor relationship with RFR. "They are a first-class organization from top to bottom," said Steve Newmark, president of RFR. "We enjoyed a great partnership in the past and we look forward to reigniting that relationship moving forward next season. "(Elliott) is a seasoned veteran and a winner on the track. He brings a reputation as a fierce competitor and I know that our entire organization … will benefit from his experience next season." Sadler will join current RFR drivers Ryan Reed and Chris Buescher . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Roush Fenway Racing is the only organization Biffle has competed for in the Cup Series
Veteran driver rejoined team in 2014 as driver development coach Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Mark Martin, a 35-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner with Roush Fenway Racing (then Roush Racing ), said Friday via Twitter that he is no longer with RFR. No. RT @timewarpnut : @markmartin @green31v @JaredLanders777 Mark, are you still going to be working with Rousch drivers this year? — Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 6, 2015 Martin had rejoined the organization this past July, signing on as a driver development coach to work with young drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, who will begin his first full-time Cup season this year. At the time, Martin said, "I'm excited to return to Roush Fenway Racing , as it feels like I'm going home to where I belong. I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning and it's very humbling to be a part of Jack's team again." Martin, 56, had previously been in a consulting role with Stewart-Haas Racing , the last team he drove for in the Sprint Cup Series. On Saturday, Martin responded to a question on Twitter with the following reason for not wanting to work with Roush anymore. I didn't want to go to the races. I've done enough of that for now. Except for dirt track. RT @dustincary : @markmartin what happen at Roush ? — Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 7, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Organization hopes to boost program that struggled in 2014 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live After last season's bottoming-out, Roush Fenway Racing headed into the offseason needing an injection -- of performance, new attitudes and fresh faces. Definitive changes have transformed the latter two, and the team's hope is that the former will follow suit. Roush Fenway didn't use name tags for its refreshed roster during last week's presentation at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom, but it may as well have. New drivers in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series have joined the mix, and new engineers are bent on deconstructing the team's shortcomings and closing its technology deficit. If first impressions mean anything, the team's first media session with a new core in the competition department showed a loose, enthused group aiming to climb from the performance valley of 2014. "I think Roush Fenway has kind of been the same for a long time," said Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a Roush mainstay since 2009, now entering his third NASCAR Sprint Cup season, "and when you're promoting from within all the time, the guys that you're promoting kind of learn from the guys ahead of them, everything kind of stays the same. At some point, it just kind of gets stale. With the new faces, we kind of went all-in." On the driving side, the personnel may be new to Roush Fenway but are familiar to most in the NASCAR crowd. Longtime Ford driver Trevor Bayne makes the jump to a full-time Sprint Cup ride in Roush's hallowed No. 6, and former truck standout Darrell Wallace Jr. joins veteran Elliott Sadler to round out the team's new look on the XFINITY circuit. But some of the most important changes have taken place behind the scenes, with two key hirings last November. Mark McArdle has joined the Roush Fenway fold as its engineering director on the Sprint Cup and XFINITY side after a successful stint at Richard Childress Racing . Kevin Kidd signs on as the Sprint Cup Series team manager in charge of at-track operations, moving over from Joe Gibbs Racing . RELATED: Roush makes competition additions The new dynamic, plus a freshening of the team shop, has already helped the team break some of its old patterns. "Problem-solving is very, very difficult," said Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway's longest-tenured driver. "We recognized when there are single-car teams running better than our cars were that we had a fundamental problem right from the very beginning. It wasn't until we brought in some new blood and got a 10,000-foot view of what we're looking at, and kind of dissected the car all the way down to the chassis." Robbie Reiser remains in place as the team's general manager, a position he accepted at the end of the 2007 season after a long-running career as a championship-winning crew chief. The additions of McArdle and Kidd help bolster the team's engineering staff, a luxury that Biffle said Reiser didn't always have. "We gave him a crescent wrench and a hammer, and he didn't have the right tools," Biffle said. "When we put him in charge of Roush Fenway competition, we were a couple years late as a team, as an organization, maybe three, four, five years late in doing that. So we put him in that position; instantly, our performance went up. We ran better, we made challenges at the title -- Carl tied in points with Tony (Stewart, in 2011) -- but we never gave him any more support. It was Robbie on an island, and he had to do it all. We needed to provide more stability for that. As other teams grew, we kind of stayed in that position." The overhaul hasn't been limited to technology; changes have also given team chemistry -- often a finicky quality to balance -- a significant boost. Jamie McMurray, who drove for Roush from 2006 to 2009 before returning to team owner Chip Ganassi, said he knew the potential pitfalls first-hand during his time there. "The dynamic at Roush was definitely different, and I think it's different now. It's changed," McMurray said last week. "I don't want to put words in anyone else's mouth that's driven there, but most guys that drove for Roush and then left couldn't believe how much different the environment was at a different organization. I was here initially and went to Roush , and I was like I couldn't believe how good I had it at Ganassi, just the vibe throughout the shop and the way you were treated. … "First off, Jack's mellowed out a lot in the past five years. Jack would take, you'd have the team meetings on Tuesday and you would go in and sit at this long conference table -- all the crew chiefs and all the drivers -- and I swear Jack got a kick out of just humiliating you in front of everybody. As you would be the guy being humiliated, you would look around at other teammates and you could tell they were like, 'Sorry you're having to go through it,' right? "I don't think it's that way any more, and I think that got Jack a long way at times treating people that way. I wasn't motivated by being humiliated. I was more motivated by a guy like Chip, wrapping his arm around me like, 'We're going to get through this. Hang with me.' Just way different environment than what I have now." The team has dealt more recently with the departures of Matt Kenseth after the 2012 season and Carl Edwards this offseason. The exodus appears to be stemmed: Biffle recommitted to Roush Fenway after declining offers from other teams, keeping one of its keystone drivers in place. MORE: Biffle looks to lead Roush reversal To hear Biffle and the rest of Roush's current drivers tell it, the rise in confidence is already palpable. "As far as the shop, making it nicer and bringing in the new faces, I think it kind of re-energizes everything, but it transfers down," Stenhouse said. "I guess it would start with the drivers, being in shop, hanging out with the guys. When they feel the confidence that I have in what they're doing and what our organization is doing, a lot of the workers in our shop feed off of that. We've got to make sure that we don't set a bad example. You want them to follow what you're feeling and what you're doing. We've got a lot of energized drivers. "We had a photo shoot yesterday and all the drivers are getting along, hanging out, and I think that's part of it. I don't know if Roush has ever had all the drivers get along and hang out and have fun. I think Jack's enjoying it as well." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule