Last week, just before the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis—the second biggest race on the NASCAR schedule—Roush Fenway Racing announced its driver line up for 2015. Carl Edwards will not be a part of that driver line up, but Greg Biffle will be back. The other drivers will be Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
At the time and several days later the timing of the announcement was questioned. With a little over two hours before the race, it was a time when prerace appearances were starting and a time when prerace sponsors’ parties were starting. Not really an opportune time to announce a top driver leaving an organization, or was it?
Carl Edwards has won a race and will most likely be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Greg Biffle has not won a race and he is not in the top 16 in points to make the Chase. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway’s third driver, is similarly out. They have been struggling as a three car team. If something doesn’t change, Edwards will not win the Championship and the others will have no way of making the Chase.
We can imagine that plans must be made so that the team not only succeeds this season, but next season as well. It can be imagined that at those parties in Indianapolis, people would be asking: what will happen next year? When putting that context into it, it is surprising that Jack Roush didn’t make an announcement earlier.
Just this week another team made a similar early announcement in order to keep their program going in the right direction. It has been known for some time that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be losing his crew chief Steve Letarte at the end of the season. What has not been known is who would replace him, in this case Greg Ives. Dale Earnhardt Jr. summed it up best. ”I just didn’t want to have to sit there in limbo. I don’t like being in limbo about nothing and having any kind of stuff up in the air.”
Those same thoughts had to be running around the whole team at Roush Fenway Racing.
The only hope Roush Fenway has for this season and making next season stronger was to usher the elephant out of the room and move on. This elephant was only going to get exponentially bigger each week until the race at Richmond. This is a distraction that is not good for race teams working hard to get better and win a Championship.
Now that elephant is on Joe Gibbs Racing’s back. Jack Roush is a pretty smart guy.
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