Iowa Win a Sign of Roush Fenway Racing XFINITY Reboundby Kyle Pokrefky May 21, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Through 10 races last year in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Roush Fenway Racing had yet to break through into the win column with their three drivers sitting in an average position of 8.67 in the drivers standings.
Flash forward one year later, the now four-car operation has two victories to their credit 10 races into the season with its four drivers in an average position of fourth in the standings with recent Iowa winner Chris Buescher leading the points.
Needless to say, it’s quite evident that Roush Fenway’s XFINITY group was made a complete turnaround from last year.
As Ryan Reed, this year’s Daytona winner, noted – every area of the team has improved over the offseason. But, even with the offseason overhaul, there is still room for improvement.
“There’s a lot of growth,” Reed said. “We’ve got areas we still need to continue to get better in. We started the year off with a win, which was a lot better than last year obviously going winless last year. Starting off the year with a win was awesome.
“Overall, every part of the organization has gotten better and that’s a tribute to all of the hard work back at the shop for the guys and to all of the guys that put in the long hours that makes it all worth it.”
Buescher points to the second half of last year as the beginning of the turnaround for the Roush Fenway camp.
It was in the second half of the year where the 22-year-old claimed his first series victory at Mid-Ohio and clawed his way to seventh in the points standings after failing to qualify for the 2014 season opener at Daytona.
“The second half of the last year was very big for us as a whole,” Buescher stated. “I feel like the company was starting to make some turnarounds and we left off last year with several top-five runs – [we finished fifth at Homestead.] It was a bummer that it was over, I was so sad that the season was done.
“I’m ecstatic that we’re able to pick up where we left off last year – and maybe even better. That’s special to us, that’s cool. We’ve made progress.”
Another catalyst for the XFINITY group’s quick turnaround – according to Reed – is the addition of Elliott Sadler, a 10-time race-winning veteran of the series.
“He’s added a lot,” Reed added. “He’s kind of a soundboard in those meetings [practice debriefs.] He’s someone who – if you’re not sure what a change did – even if he didn’t try it in that practice, he may have tried it in the past. He’s just got a ton of experience at where we go so he’s added a lot to our XFINITY program.”
While Roush Fenway’s XFINITY program has made the rebound and is on the rise, the organization’s Sprint Cup on the other hand has been floundering with driver Greg Biffle leading the way for the team in the 21st position in the standings.
As Buescher’s winning crew chief, Scott Graves, pointed out following his win – there is no lack of effort amongst those who construct and tune Roush Fenway’s Sprint Cup cars.
“For the company, any win is huge,” Graves stated. “Right now, we’re going to go back tonight, go to work tomorrow and we’re going to celebrate this as a company. The same guys that are building our Cup cars are building our cars. The quality is there and the work, the effort that everybody is putting in is there.”
A part of what has allowed the XFINITY group to flourish, as Graves pointed out, is that the rules package for NASCAR’s second-tier series has remained stable whereas the Cup package has shifted around every few years.
With the effort the organization is putting into revamping the Cup program, Graves believes that the same turnaround that happened for the XFINITY crew will happen for the Cup teams very soon.
“We’ve worked really hard on our cars obviously,” Graves continued. “The rules package has stayed pretty stable in the XFINITY Series so we’re able to work on some different setups and things like that…”
“On the Cup side, the rules change a lot so you have to be able to move so fast to keep up with what’s going on over there. I know they’re working super hard on their side as well to get Cup back up. I know it’s going to happen soon.”
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky