Monday, March 17, 2014

Roush Shows Up – In A Big Way

Edwards' Bristol win was a huge lift for Roush Fenway Racing
Last week I asked what was up with Roush Fenway Racing, wondering aloud if perhaps Jack Roush has lost some of his passion for the sport and as a result his team had lost a step.

Well I guess they showed me – and everyone else who questioned the team’s lackluster start this season.  Not only did Carl Edwards and teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., finish one-two in Roush Fords, the “B” team cars of Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose finished third and fifth driving for Richard Petty Motorsports. 

Roush seemed to acknowledge afterwards that the one-two finish is closer to what Ford is expecting from his team this year than the results of the first three races, when Roush cars lead just 10 of 779 laps.

“Ford has given us more resources,” he said.  “They've expanded their engineering involvement one more notch and given us some more.  Of course the thing that it comes down to, as it always has with people in stock car racing, is you can have talented people, but if you don't work on the right things, you won't get the results you're looking for from their effort.  We've had to think not only about the people and the programs we had going on, but whether we were missing something by not focusing on some of the other things.

Roush said his team had taken a hard look at itself during the off-season and made changes needed to compete at the highest level.

“Every winter we've got to look at the job that we've been doing technically and think about how we can do better and of course look around at our contemporaries and see how they're doing their programs, as well.  We decided we needed to add a couple more people to do some research and engineering things.  We decided to reassign and redefine the job descriptions of some of the people we had on staff.  We took an evaluation, took stock of who we had, the talent and the experience and all, and decided that we had people with the right stuff that were motivated and committed, so we stayed the course with the folks that we had even though we didn't win a championship last year.  We stayed the course, we augmented or added to the staffing level, and we were able to do some things that I wouldn't care to talk about that we weren't able to do last year based on the added resources that we've applied.”

Despite the strong Bristol finishes, however, the questions will remain for the time being about Roush Fenway Racing.  As I noted last week, Bristol is a good track for both Edwards and Stenhouse and they produced.  A key pit call kept their cars on the track when most everyone else came in for tires and gave them a lead they never relinquished.  Afterwards it seemed as if Edwards was as surprised as anyone by the outcome.    

"I can't believe we turned this around," Edwards said. "We were terrible on Saturday. We'd been struggling lately, so for us to come out here and run so well with the number of Fords out of our shop, that was big.”

The next test will be to see if they can keep it going.

The Bristol finish wasn’t the only big news for Roush and Ford over the weekend.   It was Roush Yates Ford EcoBoost engine in a car owned by Chip Ganassi that won the 12 Hours of Sebring, giving the new V6 twin turbo its first endurance race victory.

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