By Steve Mickey
Unlike some of the other professional sports, a Sprint Cup Series team doesn’t have to win it all to have their season considered to be successful. Just winning a race can make a team’s season as not only does it advance you to the Chase’s playoff round of ten races with the opportunity to run of the title, it also punches your ticket to the Sprint All-Star Race.
Of course, there are some teams that have elevated their performances over the years where success is measured by championships. Jimmie Johnson is all about winning that seventh championship while Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth would like to earn their second title of their career. All of these drivers will tell you that once you sit at the head table at the season ending awards banquet as the champion, that only another title at the end of the year satisfies their competitive nature.
Since there is only one champion crowned each year, the majority of teams are now using every day of the short off season to get their programs in a position that they can rebound from their 2015 results. Sometimes it’s just one team of a multi-car operation that struggles but you also have organizations like Roush-Fenway Racing that saw all of its teams struggle just to be competitive.
The once proud Jack Roush led organization fields three teams in the series and all three failed to qualify for the Chase. In recent seasons, Roush has lost drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards Jr. who both moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing and immediately won races and competed in the Chase,
The departures left Greg Biffle as the seasoned veteran of the Roush trio of drivers that also includes former two-time Xfinity Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne. The three drivers combined to go winless on the season as the entire organization lacked the speed to be competitive.
Roush’s organization had been the poster boy for Ford’s involvement in the Sprint Cup Series for years but the performance this year slipped to the point that it was the second consecutive season that Biffle went winless and he found himself 20th in points at season’s end. His teammates Stenhouse Jr. finished 25th and Bayne 29th.
The numbers that these drivers put up to earn their finishing position really shows just how far Roush-Fenway is from once again being considered a threat to win anytime a green flag is waved to start a race. The three combined for just four top-5 finishes with Biffle earning three of them and Stenhouse Jr. notching the other.
These dismal numbers has forced Roush to begin taking the steps that will once again put his organization into a position where it can win races and be a player in the Chase. He had already announced before the end of the season that all three drivers would be returning in 2016 so the changes that will take place will be in areas that hopefully will bolster the competitive effort of all three teams.
Kurt Romberg comes to Roush from Hendrick Motorsports to become the Technical Director of Aerodynamics. Dr. Kent Day moves from Michael Waltrip Racing to serve as Manager of Simulation and Vojin Jaksic also comes from Michael Waltrip Racing to head up the research and development/special projects department.
The trio’s first job will be to find some speed for the Roush’s Fords. The question is whether or not there is enough left of the once proud organization to get the job done.