It wasn’t an outstanding first half of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season for Roush Fenway Racing, but it was certainly better than the entire 2015 campaign.
Minus the pole award, that’s what Roush Fenway had accumulated in all of 2015. There were also no Chase drivers from the Ford Racing stable, which had never happened since the playoff format’s inception in 2004.
Things were looking a little more promising this year for the organization — especially with Bayne. He seemed to be the most improved Cup driver from 2015 with three qualifying efforts in the top 10 through the first eight races. He also made a statement about his superspeedway abilities, validating that his 2011 Daytona 500 win wasn’t a fluke.
He led 22 laps at Talladega Superspeedway in May but ended up with a 10th-place result. Still, he proved that he knows how to get it done on NASCAR’s biggest tracks.
Biffle won the pole at Daytona International Speedway in July — the first for Roush Fenway since Carl Edwards won it at Texas Motor Speedway in Nov. 2013. Stenhouse has three top fives this year, which is a career best for the fourth-year Cup driver.
However, the last 10 races haven’t been as encouraging as the first 18 events.
Bayne, who was in the Chase discussion earlier this year, tailed off as the regular season ended and missed the playoffs along with his two Roush teammates.
He and Biffle each have one top 10 in the last 10 races, while Stenhouse has two top 10s in that span, including a runner-up finish at Bristol. But among the trio, there have only been 15 laps led (all by Biffle) and not a qualifying effort better than 14th.
They look like their 2015 selves again. Not good.
The team that was once a championship-winning powerhouse in the Cup garage still has a lot of work to do. The lone bright spot in the past two years has been Chris Buescher, who won the 2015 XFINITY Series title.
He also made the Sprint Cup Chase this year by winning the rain-shortened event at Pocono Raceway this summer, but with Front Row Motorsports — he’s technically not a Roush driver even though he is under a long-term contract with the team.
So what’s next for Roush Fenway? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. It looks like all three drivers are signed through 2017. There has been some talk of Buescher moving into one of Roush’s Cup cars in the near future, but that remains to be seen.
Roush Fenway either must get better with the drivers they have or some drivers’ seats are going to be changed.
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