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Roush-Fenway Resurgence on the Horizon?

Roush-Fenway Resurgence on the Horizon?

by March 19, 2014 0 comments

Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

With a victory for Carl Edwards at Bristol Motor Speedway, Roush-Fenway Racing appears to be set to make a major comeback this season.

2013 was a relatively dismal year for Ford’s flagship team; the trio of Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Greg Biffle combined for a total of three wins with Biffle finishing the highest in the points standings with a finish of ninth.

While Edwards last year won at Phoenix, the second race of the season, this year’s win at Bristol is much more telling of a strong performance for the rest of the season than the No. 99 team’s Phoenix win.

Prior to the conclusion of last night’s race, Ford had not won a race at Bristol since Edwards last won the Irwin Tools Night Race in 2008. A Ford team has also not won the Food City 500 since Kurt Busch won it for Roush-Fenway Racing in 2004.

Last night’s victory wasn’t just a fluke for Edwards’ Roush-Fenway Racing team, all three drivers put in solid performances as Stenhouse finished second while Biffle finished in 12th.

All three teammates now head to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400. The team has suffered through a bit of a drought in Fontana, with their last victory at the track being brought to them by Matt Kenseth in the Spring of 2009. Both Roush-Fenway and Ford are currently going through a six-race dry spell in Fontana.

The win in Bristol should provide encouragement for the organization. If the team could put together a strong race package for a track they have not performed consistently well at since the mid-2000s, then they should be able to do the same for a track they haven’t won at in half a decade.

The Roush-Fenway stable’s best driver on the two-mile tracks as of late has been Biffle. In his past two races at Auto Club Speedway, Biffle has a pair of sixth-place finishes to his name and he has four straight top-10s at Michigan with two of those top-10s being victories. With this year being a contract year for the driver of the No. 16 car, the incentive to perform well is there for Biffle to snag a victory to lock himself into the Chase.

Second-year driver Stenhouse Jr. is coming off of his highest career finish at Bristol as he heads to Auto Club Speedway. While Stenhouse’s lone start in Fontana earned him a 20th-place finish, he’ll be looking to ride the momentum he earned from Bristol to another strong result for a second week in a row.

Edwards’ victory provides him and the No. 99 team with the luxury of being able to take more risks to acquire more wins thanks to the new points system. With his win from Sunday, he should have a spot in the Chase locked up for this season – pending that there are 16 or less individual race winners. Given that he may be locked into the Chase, Edwards and crew chief Jimmy Fennig have the opportunity to gamble more with strategy to net them more victories. If they win another race on a gamble, they earn themselves some bonus points heading into Chicagoland; if they lose a race on a gamble, they’re still in the Chase.

Ford’s grasp on the Sixth-Generation Sprint Cup car has taken a huge leap forward in comparison to last year. In 2013, it took the team 10 races to reach two victories; in 2014, it took only four. Since the start of the season, Ford have had five of their entries take a front-row starting position; by this point in the season last year, only one Ford entry had put their car on the front row.

With a car underneath them that is capable of leading the field each and every week and with the strength they showed the sport in Bristol, Roush-Fenway Racing may very well be building their way back up to the very top of the Sprint Cup ladder.

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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