7 reasons why Ford exec says not to give up on Roush Fenway
Jack Roush has been fielding cars in what is now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for three decades. His teams have won a total of 130 races and two championships in NASCAR's top series.
But the organization now known as Roush Fenway Racing has not won a race since Carl Edwards won a pair in 2014 before trading in his RFR Ford for a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and then stepping away from racing. In fact, the last time a driver still currently competing in the Cup Series won a race for RFR was David Ragan in 2011.
But Dave Pericak, director of racing for Ford, says not to give up on Roush Fenway. He lists seven reasons why they can turn it around and get competitive again.
Jerome MironJerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Stewart-Haas influence
Pericak said that adding Stewart-Haas Racing and its four cars to the Ford stable this year is having a trickle-down positive influence on all the Ford organizations, including RFR.
“Having more bullets in the chamber is a big deal," Pericak said. "And the way they’ve integrated into the other teams is great, the way everybody is working together.
“We knew bringing in another championship-level team was going to raise the chinning bar for everybody. There’s a lot in play here, but it’s all coming together.”
NASCAR via Getty ImagesNick Laham
RFR Cup drivers are better than you think
Pericak says he knows Roush Fenway drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne have struggled in past seasons. But it hasn't been all their fault, he said.
“I wouldn’t give up on those guys yet," Pericak said in a recent interview. "I don’t think they had the right equipment. I think there are a lot of other things that we’re fixing within Roush that weren’t in place, and so I think we have to give those guys more of an opportunity to show us what they can do.
“They’re there for a reason. They’re at the Cup level for a reason. And I think we’re giving them better equipment now and getting other things in place. We just need to execute. We’re still working on our execution with Roush Fenway. We need to off-load a bit better with Roush Fenway, because they’re struggling a little when they get off the trailer – and then they have to work so hard throughout the weekend to catch up.
“So we’ve got to improve on that a bit. But let’s give Trevor and Ricky a chance. I think those guys are very capable drivers, and we just need to give them the right situation to drive in.”
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Ryan Blaney helps, too
Pericak it's also helping Ford's overall Cup success to have Ryan Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing contributing to the knowledge pool.
“Blaney is doing an amazing job. He’s not driving like a (young driver)," Pericak said. "He’s really driving like a seasoned veteran, and every week he gets better and better. I don’t think Victory Lane is far off for him. I think he’s really close to getting a victory and we’re really happy with how he’s progressing.”
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RFR XFINITY program is strong
Pericak said he is impressed with the Roush XFINITY program that includes Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. (above) and Ryan Reed, who won that series' season-opening race at Daytona.
“Bubba’s a fantastic driver. There, too, we’re working on the (Roush Fenway) XFINITY program. We’re trying to fix some of the things that were maybe broken before. So I think what you’re going to see from Bubba is we have very high expectations for him this year. He can wheel the car. We just have to make sure the rest of the system is in place."
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Doug Yates is providing plenty of power
Pericak said the engines being provided to Roush Fenway and the rest of the Ford teams by Doug Yates and Roush Yates Engines has been excellent.
“Doug is doing a fantastic job with the motors. Part of our whole strategy with Ford Performance was to get longevity even with that relationship – so we had to get into a longer-term contract with Doug that was never existing before.
“The point is that Doug can now make even more investments and business decisions because he’s got that security. So I think you’re going to see even better things coming out of Roush Yates. So Doug’s really excited. Look at how he’s powering the Fords, right? He’s really done a fantastic job. What a great partner to work with.”
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukNigel Kinrade
Two is better than four
In the case of Roush Fenway, Pericak insists that downsizing from four cars two years ago to just a pair today was a necessary step in the right direction.
“For sure, and that was part of the strategy," Pericak said. "Sometimes when you get a bit too many cars, you get a bit distracted and you need to get back to the basics and focus on what you really need to focus on. So I think going back to two cars was really important to get everything back on track, and get focused again and moving in the right direction.”
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukNigel Kinrade
Ford remains committed to Jack Roush
Pericak said Ford is committed to getting Jack Roush's program back to the NASCAR mountaintop.
"You can see that they are getting better," Pericak said. "The cars are getting faster, they’re finishing in better spots this year. We’ll see what the rest of the year holds – but we want to bring Jack back to Victory Lane.
“When we were there with him after the XFINITY race (after Reed's win in Daytona), it felt really good to have Jack Roush back in the winner’s circle. Now we’d like to get him there in Cup. We’re 100-percent dedicated to that team and getting Jack back in the winner’s circle.”