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The Future of Roush Fenway Racing Still to be Determined

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DOVER, Del. – Roush Fenway Racing is staying the course.

Now that the organization is headed back in the right direction when it comes to their performance, Roush president Steve Newmark said Sunday the focus is on the immediate future of fighting for a Chase berth and not what their driver lineup is going to be. With three drivers running full-time in the XFINITY Series, three more under their banner in Cup, and Chris Buescher on loan to Front Row Motorsports, decisions will soon have to be made of who is running where.

But according to Newmark, it’s a good problem to have and one that has help Roush Fenway develop their identity.

“That’s been part of Jack’s (Roush, owner) DNA since well before I got here and he prides himself on that. It’s not only drivers, it’s crew chiefs, over the wall guys,” Newmark told POPULAR SPEED. “He brings them up through the XFINITY Series and so we never stop looking. In fact, we’ll probably announce another kid in our driver development program early next week.

“The way we look at is, you’re not saying in three years I need to have this (lineup). You’re just always out there looking for talent and if you get in a situation where you have too much talent for the number of rides that probably a good situation to have. You’d much rather have that than the reverse.”

Greg Biffle is the veteran of the organization and recently said in January that he’s signed a new multi-year deal. Trevor Bayne is two years into his Sprint Cup career while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in is the midst of his fourth season after winning back-to-back XFINITY championships in 2011 and 2012.

The current lineup there is just as crowded with Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Reed, plus the addition of Gray Gaulding for select events. Like any other sport, NASCAR teams go through their own versions of talent scouting and, hopefully, locking up first round picks. However, they don’t all pan out, and Newmark says that’s the hard reality of any business.

“We hope all these kids – we identify them and think that they’ve got talent, that they’ve got the right kind of character we think to go with it, but you never know whether they’re going to pan or not. So we’ve been pretty successful over the years,” Newmark said. “I think Jack has right now maybe eight of the top 25, 30 drivers have come up through his process.

“We don’t really plan exactly for say 2018, and this is going to happen in 2020, it’s really trying to develop as many drivers as possible and then you see how things play out and hopefully they all pan out and are able to showcase their talent.”

Buescher was one such driver. When the company felt he was ready to be in Cup instead of running a third year in the XFINITY Series, they coordinated with Bob Jenkins and Front Row, who Buescher was already familiar with, to compete in their camp.

In a perfect world, admitted Newmark, Roush will get him back under their roof sooner rather than later.

“There’s a combination of factors that will go into that,” he said. “Ideally, we’ll have him in one of our cars in the next few years, but I think the focus right now is we got to get him running better in the 34. There’s been a lot of emphasis in the last couple weeks on trying to get the speed out of the 34 car, and we work pretty closely with Bob and the folks at Front Row on that.”

Under NASCAR’s new ownership rules of only being able to run four full-time cars, plus the addition of the Charter System this year, Roush has been in a box. The chance of ever going back to four full-time cars looks slim, but Newmark won’t close the door on any possibility.

But for right now the company is comfortable with what they have.

“Jack would rather run 10 cars; he would run as many cars as he would be enabled,” Newmark joked. “It really will depend exactly on the driver, sponsorship, and then now you also have to have a charter, so I don’t think we would run a (fourth) full-time, but you never know.

“Our sport is just so different than anybody else. There’s ups and downs, and it fluctuates, so I think the vision would be we continue to grow, but you have to see where it goes. Our focus right now is seeing if we can get a couple guys in the Chase first.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

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POPULAR SPEED is a Social Media driven website featuring exclusive content, photographs, news and pointed editorials. It’s makeup consists of veteran motorsports journalists as well as the unique voice of developing young talent. POPULAR SPEED was launched in 2013 under the direction of former Sprint Cup Series spotter, Mike Calinoff.