Daytona 500 Team Preview: Roush Fenway Racing

Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush, nicknamed The Cat in the Hat. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush, nicknamed The Cat in the Hat. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Today we examine the two-car entry of Roush Fenway Racing in the 63rd running of the Great American Race on Feb. 14, 2021.

Jack Roush Racing was a NASCAR single-car team from inception in 1988 until 1991, with Mark Martin behind the wheel. Little did they know back then that one day they would both be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Martin in 2017 and Roush two years later.

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Roush founded his team in 1988 and rebranded as Roush Fenway Racing when Boston Red Sox owner John Henry purchased 50 percent of it in 2007. That year, Roush Fenway Racing fielded five full-time teams with David Ragan (No. 6 Ford), Greg Biffle (16), Matt Kenseth (17), Jamie McMurray (26), and Carl Edwards (99). Those five Roush Fenway Racing cars found the winner’s circle seven times that year.

'The Cat in the Hat' leads Roush Fenway Racing fortunes

Roush Fenway Racing has amassed 325 victories across all three NASCAR national touring series’ — 137 in the NASCAR Cup Series, along with eight driver titles across NASCAR's three national series. Since Henry partnered with Roush, Roush Fenway Racing has been whittled down to its current two-car operation, with Chris Buescher and veteran Ryan Newman leading the way.

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This year, Roush Fenway Racing will be seeking its third Daytona 500 crown, with the first two coming from Matt Kenseth in 2009 and 2012. Ryan Newman won the Great American Race in 2008, but he was with Team Penske when he did it. Newman may be in the twilight of his career, but don’t count him out. He knows his way around the 2.5-mile tri-oval, with a dozen top-10 finishes to his name.

Here are the thoughts of the Roush Fenway Racing drivers, shared during a virtual press conference via Ford Performance Media.

Ryan Newman - No. 6 Kohler Generators Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang

On coming back for the Daytona 500 after being so close a year ago for Roush Fenway Racing:

“That was the hope even back in September of whatever it was when we raced there was to be able to have that dramatic chapter come to an end with a victory and a playoff berth. It would be even more special to come back a year later and really, in all reality, just to have an opportunity to come as close as we did last year would be amazing as well.
I’ve been around this sport long enough to know that there are drivers that have never got a top 10, let alone a top five, or in my case a top 10 on the roof, let alone have a shot at the Daytona 500 the way I did last year. So just being in the hunt again will be an amazing feeling hopefully, and all the things that go along with it – Kohler Generators will be there. It’s their first race on a Cup car and an amazing story if we can put all those things together.”

Also Read: Daytona 500 winners: Records, upsets, memorable moments

On if the fire still burns deeper since the Daytona 500 win in 2008:

“I never look at it that way, and I say that because – and I’m gonna give you just a little piece of private information, but I’m pretty sure it’s unanimous across the board – there’s not a driver out there that doesn’t have that burn or doesn’t have that desire. And I say that because as much of a team sport as this is, even when your teammate wins you’re still more disappointed and/or jealous that you didn’t win.
You can be happy that your teammate won, but it still makes it that much more of a burn, I guess you could say, internally and externally because you haven’t, and that makes you want to fight that much harder. If you have the passion for this sport and the desire that it takes to be a winner, that will always be inside of you. My point is that no matter the situation or who wins or how close you were, that’s always going to exist. I don’t know that it exists more, and I can’t say that I feel like it more since 2008. I feel, to me, it’s the same no matter what.”

Chris Buescher - No. 17 Fastenal Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang

On being in position last year (a third-place finish) to win the Daytona 500 for Roush Fenway Racing, and if he thinks about it going into this year:

“I really haven’t gone back and replayed that one much. I think ultimately you go into every speedway race with the same mentality and that’s to be there at the end when it matters and put yourself in position. We were both able to do that last year in the 500 and a couple of the other speedway races, so we’ll keep that same mindset. You go back and you don’t worry too much about the past, try and learn from it and see if we can improve it just a little bit. I wouldn’t say there’s anything that is changing this year based off of last year.
We’re working hard to get our speedway cars a little bit better yet. Jimmy Fennig and Roush Fenway Racing has had terrific speed on the speedways for a number of years now, so we know we’re gonna have a good opportunity with our Fastenal Mustang to be there. It’s just a matter of staying clean through most of it, trying to avoid the melees that are sure to happen, that always do, and again, just be in position at the end. That’s all you can ask and hope that it plays out just a little bit better for us this time around.”

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Edited by Jeff Owens
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