Roush Fenway Racing working to leave last season in the past
Photo by Marcus Leno/TheRacingExperts.com
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle sit on pit road during a practice session at Auto Club Spedway in March.



By Zachary Lange
Staff Reporter
April 16, 2016
zlange@theracingexperts.net


DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.


For Roush Fenway Racing in 2015, speed was hard to come by. Some races often found the likes of Greg Biffle, Trevor Bayne, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. mired back in the late 20’s to early 30’s and several laps down. “We're dying a slow death,” Biffle said in March of 2015 after a race at Auto Club Speedway. “We need to start showing up for the weekend closer to where we need to be.”


Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com

Greg Biffle pre-race at the Daytona 500 in February.

Roush Fenway Racing was hoping changes in the way cars were built and aerodynamically tested would lead to better results in 2015, but results were not indicative of successful change. The heuristics at Roush Fenway Racing in 2015 were the failure. They attempted to problem solve by looking at the finer details of car preparation, instead of looking at the people who lead the organization to the point they were at, the point of mediocrity. So, while Roush Fenway kept the trio of drivers the same, many developmental roles within the organization changed. Most notable was the addition of Kurt Romberg, previous Chief Aerodynamicist for Hendrick Motorsports, was named Technical Director of Aerodynamics at RFR in the off-season. Other engineers and simulation specialists were also added to the Roush Fenway team in hopes of spinning the team around. And so far through the first seven races of the Sprint Cup Season, both Stenhouse and Bayne have seen modest improvements.

And while results don’t show yet, Biffle has begun to run more consistent and closer to mid pack and top-15 numbers. This year stands a proving point to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. doubters that he can compete at the highest tier of NASCAR. In 2015, Stenhouse’s average finish was 24th, currently in 2016 it stands at 19th. He has also had five lead lap finishes, which is already at one-third his total of 2015 (15). At his current pace, Stenhouse Jr. should see that number beaten. Glory days of Daytona victory long since passed by Trevor Bayne, but he too has seen an uptick in results from a 26th average finish in 2015 to 21st through the first seven races of 2016.

He spoke to NASCAR.com in January about being in his second year with RFR stating, “Last season, we were kind of shooting in the dark a little bit, Bayne said. We didn't know what we were going into. We were optimistic, but we didn't know. “This year, we have a lot more knowns. We've had people in places for longer. I know my crew chief, Matt Puccia. I've done this for a season, so I know what that grind is like…


Photo by Brian DeGruchy/TheRacingExperts.com

Trevor Bayne practices at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March.
This only leaves Biffle as a point for improvement. With two DNF’s and zero top-ten finishes, the 46-year-old is currently 27th in the standings. Despite the rough beginning on paper, race trends have shown that his average running position in most races has seen a slight improvement since last year, often running mid-pack to cracking the top-15. In all, Roush Fenway Racing has begun to see more consistent results at the finish, putting last year behind them a little at a time. While the storm may not have been completely weathered yet, one can start to see the bridges being built over previous gaps. With young talent developing in the Xfinity Series such as Bubba Wallace Jr, the future at Roush Fenway Racing isn’t all too dark. It may just be turning a corner.


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