CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Story by Race Chaser Online Senior Editor Tom Baker — Jacob Seelman photo —
There have been some pretty big changes at Roush Fenway Racing since the 2015 NASCAR season ended.
It was a season that saw the organization win the XFINITY Series championship with driver Chris Buescher, but also saw results on the Cup side that were not up to the level of expectation they had for it when they attended the preseason Media Tour last year.
Change is not always good, at least not immediately, but it appears that last year’s “hope and change” primed the pump for bigger and better things this season.
Buescher moves up from the XFINITY Series to a full-time Sprint Cup ride with Front Row Motorsports, which now has a much stronger alliance with RFR, wrapped under an even bigger and bolder Ford umbrella that has all of the Ford teams super-psyched about the upcoming season. Landon Cassill also joins Front Row as Buescher’s teammate, providing that organization with two hungry young racers poised to make their mark in Cup.
Well-seasoned crew chief Bob Osborne slides over to the No. 34 Front Row team to call the shots for Buescher, giving that group the type of veteran leadership they need to march forward.
“I’m excited to be working with Bob and to have this new alliance (between Front Row and Roush Fenway Racing) because I believe it will help both parties,” Buescher said. “We’re also excited to have Love’s Travel Stops on board this year as well.”
Buescher’s 2015 XFINITY Series Teammate Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. added that he thought the consolidation of the operation into one shop “is huge” and that he was happy to have Selfeo on the car for Daytona.
“I’m ready to go,” he smiled. “I wish Daytona was this weekend. We were oh, so close to a victory last year and I am confident we can do it this year.”
Wallace will again have Ryan Reed as his teammate in the XFINITY Series, as Reed will wheel the Lilly Diabetes No. 16 Ford for the second-consecutive year.
On the Cup side, Trevor Bayne will have a new crew chief for the season as Matt Puccia takes charge. Bayne said he felt that last year “set us up so we could get better.”
“We saw progress toward the end of the season, and the two races we ran with the lower downforce package (Kentucky and Darlington) were two of our best races,” Bayne added. “We feel like we’re already ahead of the game this year. We’ll also have a new Advocare paint scheme this year which I’m looking forward to as well.”
Ricky Stenhouse returns with his team intact from last season — and he also talked about some late-season momentum that he feels they can carry into the new year.
“This is the first season I’ve had where I’ve started with the same group of guys from the previous year,” Stenhouse said with a faint smile. “(Crew chief) Ricky (Sandler) and I worked very well together and we’ve spent some time together in the offseason just trying to further our communication. I feel like we’re ready to have some success for Fastenal, Fifth-Third Bank and Zest.”
The team’s “ageless veteran” Greg Biffle will have Brian Pattie in the crew chief slot for his 2016 effort, with Kentucky Fried Chicken joining his list of corporate partners beginning with the season-opening Sprint Unlimited and Daytona 500 in February.
“I’ve worked with Brian a few times in the past and we’ve worked very well together,” Biffle said. “We were trending in the right direction as last season ended with our organization so I feel like we can have a great season this year. The new package worked well for us in the two races that we ran it last year so I’m looking forward to having it for this season.”
Team co-owner Jack Roush put a bow on the team’s positive vibe.
“I’ve never felt more enthusiasm,” the ‘Cat in the Hat’ said. “We are in a great place for 2016. We’ve got a much stronger handle on the trend now for the sport to be less crew chief driven and more technically driven. I feel like our organization embodies that now.”
“I also cannot say enough about Ford. They fill our toolbox with cutting edge tools from everything from data analysis to research. No other manufacturer equals it. We’re all looking forward to Daytona and to the season ahead.”
For more information on Roush Fenway Racing, visit the team’s website at
About the Writer
Tom Baker is the Owner and Senior Editor of Race Chaser Online, as well as creator of the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show — airing Thursdays at 7 p.m. Eastern on the Performance Motorsports Network.
With 27 years of motorsports media, marketing and managerial experience, Baker serves as coach and mentor for several next generation racers, as well as Race Chaser Online’s passionate lineup of rising motorsports journalists.
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