Roush Fenway Racing has been around since 1988 and has won an impressive 133 races in those 26 seasons. Throughout those 26 seasons the team has had a lot of ups and downs. In 2013 the team won three races and never really competed for the championship. It was one of the organizations toughest seasons.
Heading into the 2014 season the team faces their most important season yet. As you look at what the team faces in the upcoming year it is essential that the team gets off to a good start for several reasons.
If you go back to a few years ago when Joe Gibbs Racing had an opening in their organization one of the drivers they courted to drive their #20 car was Carl Edwards. It was reported that Edwards had to make a decision on whether or not he would go back to Roush Fenway Racing or head to Joe Gibbs Racing. Edwards decided to stay and many people reported that Ford helped out to keep Edwards at Roush Fenway Racing.
That, however, was three years ago and here we are again with Edwards an upcoming free agent and a decision may come to go elsewhere. There will be several factors, but the most important factor for Edwards will be the state of Roush Fenway Racing and who is in charge. During the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour a few weeks ago a familiar face was missing from Roush Fenway Racing's part of the tour. That was Jack Roush himself. If Roush is no longer the man in charge at Roush Fenway Racing that leaves the tean in the hands of the teams General Manager Robbie Reiser. With Reiser in charge it will be interesting to see the difference in Roush Fenway Racing.
Whether the last few seasons will weigh into the decision on whether Edwards stays at Roush Fenway Racing or leaves to go elsewhere is unclear. One thing is clear though. Edwards will be a hot commodity in the free agent market. He is in his prime age (he will be 34 years old at season's end) and is still one of the most recognized drivers in the sport. He also has managed to record 21 wins in his first nine full seasons in the sport and has been a championship contender in his career. There also may be some envy for Edwards, who watched his former teammate Matt Kenseth leave Roush Fenway Racing in favor of Joe Gibbs Racing and have the best season of his career. Kenseth proved just how far behind Roush Fenway Racing was from Joe Gibbs Racing.
Edwards isn't the only driver at Roush Fenway Racing with a decision to make after the season. Greg Biffle, who is now the elder statesman at Roush Fenway Racing is also a free agent at seasons end. Biffle, who will be 45 years old when the 2015 season starts, has been one of the organizations best drivers over the last ten seasons. Biffle's age may play a role in the decision. Whether Roush Fenway Racing can sell a 45 year old driver better than a driver in their 20's makes the decision an extremely tough one for the organization to make. While Trevor Bayne appears to be a leading candidate to make a jump full-time to the Cup Series to replace any driver that should leave.
Bayne struggled in the 2013 season in the Nationwide series and that has led to a crew chief change with a lot of pressure on him and his team in 2014. The 2011 Daytona 500 champion needs to show he is a championship contender in the Nationwide Series to help sell him to sponsors in the 2015 season, shall either Biffle or Edwards leave.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr's 2013 season was mediocre at best, however he was a rookie and not a ton was expected of the youngster. However, a crew chief change came into play and Scott Graves was replaced by Mike Kelley, who Stenhouse had previously won two Nationwide Series championships with. With that change it means Stenhouse and his sponsors have high expectations for the 2014 season.
Roush Fenway Racing has a ton of situations hanging over their heads in the 2014 season and the only way to better those situations is to run good. If they don't we could look at the 2014 season as the season that Roush Fenway Racing went into a spiral downturn.
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