Roush’s 2015 Driver Lineup Remains ‘In Flux’
CONCORD, N.C. – Roush Fenway Racing’s Saturday announcement that Trevor Bayne will compete fulltime next year in the Sprint Cup Series provides only a small glimpse into the team’s 2015 driver lineup.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. returns to the Roush Fenway operation, but Greg Biffle’s and Carl Edwards’ plans for next year have yet to be finalized. For weeks it has been rumored that Edwards might head for Joe Gibbs Racing at the season’s conclusion just as Matt Kenseth did at the end of 2012.
However, team owner Joe Gibbs remains vague about JGR driver plans for 2015, noting there are a “couple of guys that are on their last year.”
Jack Roush and Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark describe their organization’s Sprint Cup driver lineup for 2015 simply as “in flux.”
“The fact we have taken the No. 6 car number indicates that we have our plans open for a fourth car,” Roush said Saturday.
Bayne’s elevation to fulltime Sprint Cup status also creates an opening at the Wood Brothers, with whom he won the 2011 Daytona 500. He has driven a limited schedule for that team ever since.
“We’ll get with Ford and see what the future holds,” Wood Brothers co-owner Len Wood said about the course they would take in obtaining a new driver. “Based on what we’ve been doing the last few years, I would think that we would stay the course and help develop the next driver. It was kind of the plan all along to get him [Bayne] ready to go fulltime in Cup.”
Newmark said Roush Fenway would like to resume hiring young drivers they can develop and advance through the racing ranks in their system.
“That’s something we’ve talked a lot about internally,” Newmark said. “We think we’ve got a pretty good base of young drivers when you look at Ricky, Trevor, you’ve got Ryan (Reed) and Chris (Buescher) and then we’ve got some younger kids running ARCA and some other series. I think there will be a renewed push on our part to keep that program going. It’s not only the future of the sport, but it’s the future of Roush and who we are.”
Newmark said when the recession occurred the organization had young drivers it was developing, but not as many as in the economy’s robust years. He noted Buescher and Reed would continue their development next year in the Nationwide Series.
“I think it’s important to have drivers at different points in their careers,” Newmark said. “I think in an ideal world you have drivers that run the gamut. You might have some young drivers, some in the middle and some at the top of that. If you’re mapping out, ideally, that is the way you would like to see it.”
AdvoCare, Bayne’s sponsor this year in the Nationwide Series, will move up with the Knoxville, Tenn., driver and handle the financial responsibility for the entire season, a rare corporate decision in today’s economic climate. It is expected for Roush Fenway to enter Bayne in a few Cup races towards the end of the season.
Stenhouse Jr. won’t have Nationwide sponsorship next season, but he will have Cargill Beef and Newmark said they hoped to put together a mix of the partners they have this year.
– Deb Williams can be reached at email@example.com Comments