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News

2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Honors Five NASCAR Legends

Allison, Gordon, Kulwicki, Penske and Roush Officially Enshrined

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 1, 2019) – Five of NASCAR’s legendary competitors – three drivers and two owners – were enshrined into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, tonight during the Induction Ceremony held in the Crown Ball Room at the Charlotte Convention Center.

Davey Allison, Jeff Gordon, Alan Kulwicki, Roger Penske and Jack Roush comprise the 10th Class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame – now home to 50 inductees.

A phenom from Northern California, Gordon is credited for taking NASCAR from a southern pastime to the mainstream. He became the youngest driver in the modern era to win a premier series title as a 24-year-old in 1995. The leader of the Rainbow Warriors – named for his colorful Chevrolet – went on to win three more championships (1997, ’98, 2001). In 1998 Gordon won a modern era-record 13 races. He finished his career third on the all-time wins list with 93 victories. The youthful, flashy Gordon served as the perfect rival to the rugged Dale Earnhardt Sr. and was the first NASCAR driver to host “Saturday Night Live.” He retired from full-time NASCAR racing as the sport’s iron man, boasting a record 797 consecutive starts.

“What a special evening. I’m so honored to be here surrounded by friends, family, fans and many people that have worked very hard behind the scenes for me over the years,” Gordon said. “Thank you to the fans who make racing the great sport that it is. You make being a race car driver a dream come true.”

Allison is regarded as one of the top pure talents to ever take the wheel of a race car. He won 19 races and 14 poles before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in 1993 at 33 years old. The son of 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Bobby Allison, he finished second to his father in the 1988 Daytona 500 as the pair became the only father-son duo to finish first and second in NASCAR’s biggest event. Allison would later win ‘The Great American Race’ in 1992.

An accomplished short-track racer from Wisconsin, Kulwicki moved to Charlotte in 1984 with only a pickup truck and self-built race car with the hope of competing in NASCAR’s premier series. He quickly made his dream into a reality earning Rookie of the Year with his self-owned team in 1986 and picking up his first win at Phoenix in 1988. Despite lucrative offers, Kulwicki never raced for anyone but himself. In 1992, he overcame a 278-point deficit with six races left to capture the NASCAR premier series championship on the strength of two wins, 11 top fives and 17 top 10s. Unfortunately, Kulwicki never got the chance to defend his title after dying in a plane crash on the way to Bristol Motor Speedway in 1993. He’ll forever be known for his trademark “Polish Victory Lap,” a celebratory cool-down lap with the driver’s window facing the fans.

One of America’s renowned entrepreneurs, Roger Penske has built a motorsports empire involved with racing for more than 50 years. Penske has won 114 NASCAR premier series races, two Daytona 500s (Ryan Newman, 2008; Joey Logano, 2015), four Xfinity Series owner titles, and two premier series owner championships (Brad Keselowski, 2012; Joey Logano, 2018). Outside of competition, he built Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, in 1996 and previously owned Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR Hall of Famers Rusty Wallace (36 wins) and Bobby Allison (four wins) have raced for Penske.

“This Hall of Fame honor and this moment is very special to me, and I am so glad to share it with my family and friends,” Penske said. “Racing has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. It is a common thread that is woven throughout all of our Penske business. Racing is simply who we are.”

A graduate-level mathematician and engineering entrepreneur from Michigan, Roush was a drag racing owner and enthusiast before he decided to try his hand at NASCAR in 1988. Since entering the sport, he’s won a record 324 races across NASCAR’s three national series and boasts five owner championships, including two premier series titles (Matt Kenseth, 2003; Kurt Busch, 2004). Roush initially built his powerhouse team by pairing with 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Mark Martin, who won 83 national series races for Roush from 1988-2005.

“‘When I announced my plan to start a NASCAR Cup team in January 1988, few if any knowledgeable fans and even fewer Cup team personnel would have given me favorable odds of surviving for more than three decades as I stand before you tonight,” Roush said.

In addition to the five inductees enshrined today, Jim Hunter was honored as the fifth recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Hunter’s career in the NASCAR industry spanned more than 50 years as a NASCAR executive, track president, public relations professional and journalist. He worked for a decade as an award-winning journalist before transitioning to public relations for Dodge, then Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1983, Hunter was named NASCAR vice president of administration. Ten years later, he became president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. Hunter was a close confidant of Bill France Jr. who lured him back to NASCAR in 2001 to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. Many drivers and industry executives credit Hunter’s mentorship as the key to their NASCAR success.

Prior to tonight’s Induction Ceremony, journalist Steve Waid was presented the seventh Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.

About NASCAR

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc. (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States. NASCAR consists of three national series (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series™), three regional series, one local grassroots series, three international series and the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. Based in Daytona Beach, Fla., with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).

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News

2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductees Selected

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 23, 2018) – NASCAR announced today the inductees who will comprise the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The five-person group – the 10th since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Jeff Gordon, Roger Penske and Jack Roush. In addition, NASCAR announced that Jim Hunter earned the 2019 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR. The distinguished group will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Feb. 1, 2019.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel met today in a closed session at the Charlotte Convention Center to debate and vote upon the 20 nominees for the induction class of 2019 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award.

The Class of 2019 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the fifth year, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Martin Truex Jr.). In all, 57 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd and Waddell Wilson). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.

Voting was as follows: Jeff Gordon (96%), Jack Roush (70%), Roger Penske (68%), Davey Allison (63%) and Alan Kulwicki (46%).

The next top vote-getters were Buddy Baker, Hershel McGriff and Waddell Wilson.

Results for the NASCAR.com Fan Vote, in alphabetical order, were Davey Allison, Buddy Baker, Harry Gant, Jeff Gordon and Alan Kulwicki.

The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Buddy Baker, Red Farmer, Ray Fox, Harry Gant, Joe Gibbs, John Holman, Harry Hyde, Bobby Labonte, Hershel McGriff, Ralph Moody, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Kirk Shelmerdine, Mike Stefanik and Waddell Wilson.

Nominees for the Landmark Award included Janet Guthrie, Barney Hall, Alvin Hawkins, Hunter and Ralph Seagraves.

The Class of 2019 Induction Weekend is set for Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019, through Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019, at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The official Induction Ceremony will take place on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. The Class of 2019 marks the 10th class and a total of 50 legends inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. To celebrate the momentous occasion, new events and special programs have been added throughout the extended weekend.

Tickets to Induction Ceremony events begin at $75 per person (plus tax and applicable service fees). Tickets go on sale on Saturday, June 9, 2018, at 10 a.m. ET. A special pre-sale will be available to NASCAR Hall of Fame members Wednesday, May 30, 2018, through Friday, June 8, 2018. To learn about becoming a NASCAR Hall of Fame member, visit nascarhall.com/membership. For additional details about the Class of 2019 Induction Weekend schedule and ticket packages, visit nascarhall.com/inductees/induction-ceremony.

Class of 2019 Inductees:

Davey Allison

Davey Allison was born with speed. The son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison grew up more interested in football, but could not escape the racing bug, following his father into the family profession. The younger Allison honed his skills at local Alabama tracks, getting his big break in 1987, taking over for legendary driver Cale Yarborough in Ranier-Lundy’s Ford Thunderbird. Allison spent no time continuing the family’s legacy, compiling two wins, five poles and nine top fives in his full-season debut to capture 1987 premier series rookie of the year. Allison won 19 races and 14 poles, including the 1992 Daytona 500, before his tragic death in a helicopter accident in 1993.

Jeff Gordon

Blessed with once-in-a-generation talent and charisma, Jeff Gordon helped take NASCAR from a regional sport to the mainstream. Gordon took NASCAR by storm in the 1990s, becoming the youngest driver in the modern era to win a premier series title as a 24-year-old in 1995. He went on to win three more championships (1997, ’98, 2001). In 1998, Gordon led the Rainbow Warriors – named for his colorful No. 24 Chevrolet – to a modern era-record 13 wins. Overall, he won 93 races, which ranks third on the all-time wins list. Gordon is a three-time Daytona 500 champion and won the Brickyard 400 a record five times.

Alan Kulwicki

Noted Wisconsin short-track racer Alan Kulwicki moved to Charlotte in 1984 with nothing but a pickup truck, a self-built race car and the hopes of competing in NASCAR’s highest series. He had no sponsor and a limited budget. Kulwicki burst onto the scene as the 1986 NASCAR Rookie of the Year with his self-owned AK Racing team. Throughout his career, Kulwicki received lucrative offers from powerhouse race teams, but insisted on racing for himself. That determination eventually led to his first of five career victories at Phoenix in 1988. His signature season was his championship-winning 1992 campaign, where Kulwicki overcame a 278-point deficit with six races remaining to capture the NASCAR premier series title. Kulwicki never got the chance to defend his title, dying in a plane crash in 1993.

Roger Penske

A true captain of industry, Roger Penske has steered one of the most successful motorsports ships in the sport’s history. Penske, who celebrated his 50th anniversary in racing in 2016, reached a major milestone and collected a prestigious award during the golden anniversary season. That year, he reached 100 wins in NASCAR’s premier series and capped off the season by receiving the Bill France Award of Excellence. Penske won the premier series championship in 2012 with driver Brad Keselowski, and owns two Daytona 500 wins with Ryan Newman in 2008 and Joey Logano in 2015. And from 2013-15, Penske tied a record with three consecutive owner championship in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Off the track, Penske likewise makes an indelible mark. He built the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California in 1996, and previously owned Michigan International Speedway.

Jack Roush

Once a Michigan-based drag racing owner and enthusiast, Jack Roush made his best motorsports decision when he turned south in 1988 to start a NASCAR team. Since beginning Roush Racing (now known as Roush Fenway Racing), the graduate-level mathematician turned engineering entrepreneur has won a record 325 races across NASCAR’s three national series. Overall, Roush boasts five NASCAR national series owner championships, while his drivers have won an additional three driver championships. Roush has displayed a prowess for discovering and developing talent. He helped Matt Kenseth (2003) and Kurt Busch (2004) grow into premier series champions and also jumpstarted the careers of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.

Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR:

Jim Hunter

Throughout his career, Jim Hunter left an indelible mark on NASCAR and those associated with the sport. His wit and wisdom helped guide NASCAR’s growth during portions of six decades as a company executive, track president, public relations professional and journalist. Hunter broke into the motorsports business as a member of the media in the 1950s. He worked as the sports editor of the Columbia Record, was an award-winning reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine. He moved to the public relations side of the business with Dodge in the 1960s before serving as public relations director at Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1993, he became president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. He remained at Darlington until 2001 when he accepted an offer from Bill France Jr. to return to NASCAR to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. 

Categories
Commentary

WAID’S WORLD: Stenhouse Jr. Sparks Resurgence At Roush Fenway

For a while there, I thought Roush Fenway Racing had gone the way of the dinosaur. It wasn’t in the headlines or on the airwaves and I daresay fans didn’t give it much of a second thought.

No, the team isn’t as extinct as a T-Rex. But in recent years it has slipped off the radar.

There’s a good reason for that.

The Roush organization was once one of the most prominent in Monster Series NASCAR Cup racing. It won races, a couple of championships and featured some of the most noteworthy drivers in stock car racing – like champions Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch and recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Mark Martin.

But it has dropped onto the B list. It didn’t win a race in 2015 or 2016, which, incidentally, was the last year for veteran driver Greg Biffle. He’s also fallen off the radar.

Once a member of the ranks that included Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske, Roush became an also-ran.

Penske, a Ford team like Roush Fenway, has been using Roush Yates-built engines since 2013 and has won poles, races and championships. So it follows that a lack of horsepower hasn’t been a problem at Roush Fenway. Therefore, it must be something else.

Once a five-car goliath, Roush shrank to a two-car team in 2016. The drivers, Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., didn’t have much major league experience. But they did not lack in talent.

In fact, Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 with the Wood Brothers, then a Roush associate. And Stenhouse Jr. was the XFINITY Series champion in 2011 and 2012.

But logic dictated needed experience for both would take time.

Perhaps that time has come.

Stenhouse Jr. won his second career race of the season in the wild Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. In so doing he displayed his skill at plate racing as he also won at Talladega this year.

Stenhouse Jr. is the first driver to win for Roush since Carl Edwards won twice in 2014. He’s also the first Roush driver to crack the top 20 in points since Edwards finished ninth, also in 2014.

Stenhouse Jr. is 16th in points but the important thing is that his two victories put Roush in the playoff for the first time since, yes, 2014.

Roush, known as “The Cat in the Hat,” was one of NASCAR’s most hands-on owners until he decided to step back in let team president Steve Newmark and operations director Tommy Wheeler run the day-to-day operations.

They appear to be turning things around.

Roush wasn’t at Daytona to see Stenhouse Jr.’s victory. He was on vacation with his daughter at Mt. Rushmore.

“We encouraged him to do it because what he’s done over the last year empowered a group of individuals to run the company,” Wheeler said in a published report from Daytona.

It has begun to pay off.

“I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “They build a Ford that was really fast.

“It’s all about prepared race cars. Looking over everything, making sure we’re not missing anything. It’s easy to miss something. You are running so hard each and every lap and it’s all got to play out together.”

Wheeler said the Daytona victory could be credited to Stenhouse Jr.’s skills at plate racing, in which expertly utilizing the high speed draft is paramount.

“Ricky is a hell of a plate driver,” Wheeler said. “You saw what he did. He was at the front.”

The season isn’t over, of course, and we won’t fully know the Roush status until it is.

But with Stenhouse Jr. in the playoffs and Bayne making competitive gains, it would appear Roush Fenway has taken steps to regain its once lofty status.

“Jack made corrections to the steps we were taking because they were flawed,” Wheeler said. “We were going to make changes. The guys are proving they were the right ones.”

EMAIL STEVE AT steve.waid@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Roush Fenway Believes More Good to Come in 2017

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ryan Reed won his second career NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway, and although his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. crashed out on Lap 29, both drivers and team owner Jack Roush were exceptionally pleased with the organization’s performance throughout Speedweeks.

RFR went winless in both the XFINITY and Cup Series last season. The team has struggled the last two years, despite winning the XFINITY title in 2015 with Chris Buescher.

But now it is a two-car effort in both series as Greg Biffle left the No. 16 Cup car in the offseason.

Speedweeks went well for the organization — most notably since Reed qualified second for the PowerShares QQQ 300.

“Speedweeks is kind of a race within itself … Ryan had an awesome qualifying lap there,” Wallace told POPULAR SPEED. “It kind of gave everyone in the shop a little shot in the butt, and I think we had great speed. We’re just bummed out that we got to the front early and I thought we’d be OK, but we just didn’t get lucky, but it’s just part of it.”

Reed won the XFINITY season-opener in 2015. He said since that race, he comes to every superspeedway with the confidence of contending for the victory.

“The guys take pride in it, and if the driver does his part, he keeps out of trouble,” Reed said. “I’ve never had any doubt in my mind that we can come to any restrictor plate race and win.”

Jack Roush added, “The cars ran really well over the winter. Doug Yates has given us great engines for all of our Fords. It sure looks like we’ve made a move on the field and we are better than we were in relation to last year.”

Wallace thinks the speed will translate on the Cup side too and be sustained this season. Trevor Bayne has two full Cup seasons under his belt, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is entering his fifth full season in NASCAR’s top level.

“We’ve been working hard with a lot of changes,” Wallace said. “I think those guys [Bayne and Stenhouse] are smart enough and old enough to see what kind of racing goes on out here.

“It’d be cool to see another Roush Fenway Ford in Victory Lane soon.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

FIVE MINUTES WITH … Jack Roush

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — He’s known as “The Cat in the Hat” throughout the NASCAR community and is a famed Sprint Cup Series owner with 135 Cup wins and two Cup championships — he’s Jack Roush.

Roush arrived on the NASCAR scene in 1988 and hired Mark Martin as his driver. His team was brand new and didn’t have the aura which the organization is now known to have. Martin, who had previous stints in NASCAR in the 1980s without much success, made his debut with Roush in the 1988 Daytona 500 driving the now iconic No. 6 Ford but finished 41st after the car suffered an overheating problem.

“Mark Martin was my first driver and of course, he brought me into the sport as he had a couple of years of involvement,” Roush told POPULAR SPEED. “I gave him a second chance at it, so Mark and I put our oars in it and made our mark together.”

Since that first race in February 1988, the team has grown into one of the most prevalent racing teams in motorsports.

“In 1988, I started with one driver and 12 people,” Roush said. “We had three racecars when we went to Daytona in that first year. Now, to have a good program, you have to have 100 people standing behind each car in the Cup Series and half of that in the XFINITY Series.”

Roush was a mechanic and the spotter for his team. His first impression of NASCAR was that it wasn’t very difficult to drive around an oval for hundreds of laps. But his views, as well as the importance of technology in racing, have immensely evolved since the late 1980s and sees how the sport has become much more challenging.

“I thought — and many other people did too — that NASCAR and stock car racing aren’t terribly sophisticated,” Roush said. “But the advanced input and encouragement of engineering have really escalated the technology in the sport. My forte was to look at the failure and figure out from an experience point of view and in effect, make a correction to look at what caused a component to fail. Now, there’s nothing for me to do because those low-solution problems don’t occur.”

Roush is the owner of three cars in the Cup Series today; Trevor Bayne‘s No. 6, Greg Biffle‘s No. 16, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s No. 17; and two cars in the XFINITY Series; Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr.‘s No. 6 and Ryan Reed‘s No. 16. Recently, the Ford Racing stable hasn’t been the dominating force on the track that it once was in the 2000s. The organization’s performance level has declined over the last three years, which was kickstarted by Matt Kenseth’s departure to Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2012 season. Former Roush Fenway driver Carl Edwards also joined JGR after 2014 and since then, the team hasn’t won a Cup race.

None of the Roush Fenway drivers made the Chase in 2015. But with five races left until the 2016 Chase, the team has shown a better on-track product with Bayne and Stenhouse are making a push for a playoff berth as they are 18th and 19th in the standings, respectively.

“There’s been a progression of improvement, and we’re trying to achieve perfection in every aspect of our racing,” Roush said. “The reliability of the engine components and the drivetrains are better. The decisions that the drivers make on the racetrack still determine the setup so I wouldn’t say the quality of the setups has improved, but I think the decisions the crew chiefs make has been up one notch from the past.”

The organization isn’t consistently finishing in the top five, but has, without doubt, stepped its game up from last season. Chris Buescher, who won the XFINITY Series championship in 2015 for Roush Fenway has proven himself as a future star in NASCAR and won his first Cup race at Pocono Raceway in July.

Although the victory was with Front Row Motorsports, Buescher and FRM have an alliance with Roush Fenway to share resources. The 23-year-old Sprint Cup rookie is also under a long-term contract, meaning he will be in one of Roush Fenway’s cars in the foreseeable future.

“He’ll have a place in one of our Cup cars soon,” Roush said. “Whether it’s 2017 or a [later] year, I don’t know. But Bubba and Ryan Reed will need to be able to be in a championship position over in the [XFINITY Series] though. There’s a passive right of admission — they need to be able to be the best in the XFINITY field, but they still both have a little growing to do.

“They have full potential and a lot of blue sky, and Ryan is certainly a courageous young man dealing with what some would see as a handicap (Type 1 diabetes.) Bubba is extraordinarily talented and resourceful, but maybe he’s not as fast as he should be and accept advice. They both have a little work to do.”

So as Roush feels confidence in his team’s future, he hasn’t forgotten the past. Matt Kenseth has won two Daytona 500s for Roush and won the 2003 Winston Cup championship. In 2004, former Roush Fenway racer Kurt Busch repeated for the organization winning the 2004 Nextel Cup championship.

But of all the great victories he has experienced in his NASCAR career, he considers the 1989 AC Delco 500 his most significant ever.

“My proudest moment was Rockingham in 1989 when Mark won our first Cup race,” Roush said. “It looked like we could stay for another year. Robin Pemberton was the crew chief, and I think I was the spotter. That win is number one.”

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

Categories
Editorial

CALINOFF: What Did Jack Roush Just Say?

Car owners, drivers, crew chiefs and team management people have mastered the art of answering questions without answering questions.

Media folks will ask, let’s say, a car owner the status of a driver – usually during a year when their contract is up for renewal. Those questions are typically posed if performance has been sub-par, or a sponsor announces that they’re going in a different direction. Or even when team co-owners split and proclaim that their teams will continue to run independently in the future. We just learned that’s not exactly how it’s going to play out.

Nevertheless, the media has an obligation to at least try to keep the fans informed, so they have to ask.

But here’s what they get:

“Our intentions are to keep him,” or “We’re working through those details,” or “In a perfect world, nothing would change.” And then it comes. The standard follow-up: “But right now, we’re just focused on winning races and getting into the Chase.” In other words, that portion of the Q&A has concluded – what else ya got?

There are those who truly excel at the game.

Roger Penske is really good. He gives great answers to questions regarding Ryan Blaney’s future in the Sprint Cup Series – but we never get any more information about his plans than we had before we asked. It’s as if he doesn’t know.

But he knows.

Forbes estimates Penske’s net worth to be $1.34 Billion. And when you have a budding superstar in your stable – you’ll figure something out. He knows.

Another great player in this arena is Jack Roush.

Jack is smart. I mean, really smart. He’s quite the wordsmith, and his answers usually include verbs and adjectives that even smart people don’t understand.

Quick story:

I attended a meeting at the Roush Fenway shop years ago with a group of about ten people. Jack was on one of his rants – I don’t remember why – and used the word hubris. Glancing around the table I noticed that some were discreetly looking up the definition on their phones. Hell, I didn’t even know how to spell it let alone what it meant. I’ve since used it twice playing Scrabble.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 8.13.03 PM

Anyway, here’s a good example of answering without answering.

During a recent segment of Sirius XM’s Dialed In, Jack was asked about his future plans for Buescher – the current points leader in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He told show host, Claire B. Lang that the 22-year-old will be in a Sprint Cup Series car “sooner than later,” but added, “I stop short of saying it’s 2016, but there is a consideration, discussion going on about the prospect of getting him in a car. If not one of my cars, one of the other Ford cars that would be competitive and competing in 2016. He may very well be in one of my Sprint Cup cars. It’s just a matter of sponsorship and business considerations.”

Go read that again.

It may not be 2016, but it would be in a competitive car competing in 2016.

Anyway, it’s getting ready to happen again. Silly Season has begun, and the dominos are starting to fall.

Car owners, drivers and team management will face a barrage of media questions and give precise, eloquent answers that merely raise questions. It’s a vicious cycle.

So Jack, is Chris Buescher is headed to Cup? Will he race a full or partial schedule? Will he be farmed-out to another organization or will he replace someone in yours?

He probably won’t say. But he knows.

They always know.

Should Jack Roush Move Buescher to Cup?

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Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Greg Biffle on Roush Fenway: “We’re Dying a Slow Death.”

The steady decline of Roush Fenway Racing may have hit rock bottom on Friday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway when all three cars failed to qualify in the top-25.

Ricky Stenhouse, a two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series champion, was the best out of the bunch in 27th, with Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne qualifying 29th and 36th respectively.

With the departure of Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards over the past several seasons, only Greg Biffle remains as a veteran leader type and he didn’t mince words when describing the state of the once powerful Ford operation.

“This is unacceptable for how good of a team we are,” Biffle said on the FOX Sports 1 television broadcast. “We’re dying a slow death. We need to start showing up for the weekend closer to where we need to be.”

He later took a more analytical approach on the MRN radio broadcast suggesting that the RFR cars’ splitters are riding too high off the ground and that “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that’s where everyone is beating us.”

Bayne has struggled in qualifying throughout the season. He has just one start better than 35th this year and that was a 29th at Atlanta.

“We’ve been working really hard,” Bayne said. “It’s not a lack at all from my guys. We just haven’t qualified well at all this year as a group, have been slower on our fast runs. In the race we can run top-15 speeds, the problem with qualifying so far back is the leaders are in clean air we have to come from so far back you go a lap down early and you can never get it back.

“That’s been a real struggle for us, qualifying. But we’ll figure it out.”

For his part, team owner Jack Roush admitted frustration but expressed optimism that his three car operation will be better for the race on Sunday.

“Yes, I’m disappointed,” Roush said on the radio broadcast. “I thought we were hitting on something after Atlanta and Las Vegas. But we have ample time to test and work on this tomorrow in practice and I’m confident we’ll get it straightened out.”

The struggles are a continuation of those the team experienced during the 2014 season that eventually saw Roush hire Mark McCardle and Kevin Kidd to key leadership positions inside the front office. During the annual NASCAR Media Tour back in January, Roush drivers and executives said they intended to “change the culture.”

However, the results have yet to manifest themselves after the first month of the season.

Jeff Gordon: Will Probably Talk to Chevrolet about Sporadically Driving after 2015

Buescher Proud of First Cup Qualifying Effort

Making his Sprint Cup debut in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford this weekend, Chris Buescher said his 33rd fastest time was exactly what he had hoped for his first official session with the independent Ford operation.

“That’s what we were hoping for is to go out there and lay down a pretty solid lap,” Buescher said. “Nice and consistent with nothing crazy. We didn’t hit anything today, so that’s a plus.

“It was tough getting out of the XFINITY car with our 60 team and trying to figure out what I needed to adapt in order to go out there and run a solid lap. These guys at Front Row Motorsports have done a nice job. The car is driving really good.”

Buescher is driving the car for Brett Moffitt who himself was called back to Michael Waltrip Racing to replace Brian Vickers who has once again been sidelined by a blood clot. Buescher wishes the circumstances were different but he plans to make the most out of his debut regardless of the situation.

“It’s crazy the way it all came about and obviously the circumstances for it are very unfortunate,” Buescher said. “We’re wishing Brian Vickers the best and a speedy recovery. I know it has to be hard to watch this, but with everything shuffling around the way it did it’s nice to be considered to be able to sub in for these guys and be able to make our first Cup start.

“We’re going to make the most out of it. I’ve got a lot of learning to do on my side. I even told them, ‘I don’t even know what to tell you to adjust on the car.’”

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