Once upon a time, Roush Fenway Racing was the greatest NASCAR team
Roush Fenway Racing is a motorsport team which currently runs two cars in the NASCAR Cup Series and three cars in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Trevor Bayne (#6) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr (#17) are the team’s full-time drivers in the Cup Series, Darrell Wallace Jr (#6) and Ryan Reed (#16) are the full-timers in the Xfinity Series, with the #60 car as a part-time NXS entry for different drivers.
The team was originally founded in 1988 as Roush Racing by Jack Roush, an owner of the Roush Performance company. The team acts like Roush Fenway Racing since 2007, when sports investor John W. Henry, an owner of the Fenway Sports Group, bought a 50% stake in a team.
Eight NASCAR titles, more than 320 victories
The team’s drivers won eight NASCAR championship titles – two in the Cup Series (2003, 2004), five in the Busch/Nationwide/Xfinity Series (2002, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2015) and one in the Truck Series (2000).
Until 2017, the team recorded cumulated 324 wins in all three NASCAR national series, including 137 Cup Series wins, 138 Xfinity Series wins and 50 Truck Series wins.
Running with Fords exclusively
Since its inception, Roush has competed exclusively with Fords. There were two periods, from 1998 to 2000 and from 2003 to 2009, when Roush Racing was operating five full-time Cup teams, more than any other team in NASCAR’s history. The team shrank its operations to four cars in 2009, then to three cars in 2011 and finally to two cars in 2017.
Jack Roush started motorsport business in the 1970s
Jack Roush, born in 1942 and nicknamed the Cat in the Hat because he has been rarely seen without his trademark Panama hat, was working for Ford after graduating in 1966. He left the company in 1970 to pursue his own business. In the following two decades, Roush Performance became the famous name in the engineering and racing business. Roush’s car participated in drag racing events, Trans-Am Series, IMSA Championship and finally, in 1988, he founded a NASCAR team.
Mark Martin was the first team’s driver
Roush Racing’s original entry was the #6 Ford Thunderbird for Mark Martin. The team debuted at 1988 Daytona 500. In the first race, an engine blew up after just 19 laps. However, performances quickly improved, with Martin winning one pole position and recording ten top 10 finishes. The first victory came in 1989 at North Carolina Speedway, with Mark Martin at the wheel of the #6 Ford. Martin finished in the third place at the end of the season.
Legendary Martin-Roush partnership for 19 seasons
The partnership between Mark Martin and Jack Roush turned to be legendary. Martin stayed with the team until 2006, scoring his greatest results with the #6 Ford. In nineteen seasons with Roush Racing, Martin was the championship runner-up four times, in 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002, finishing in the 3rd place four times. He was losing titles to Dale Earnhardt (twice), Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. In total, Martin scored 35 Cup Series wins in the #6 Ford.
Greg Biffle was driving the #16 Ford for 14 seasons
The #16 Ford debuted in 1992, driven by Wally Dallenbach Jr. In 1994, Ted Musgrave took over the car and stayed in it until 2000. During 2002, the #16 car was used to prepare Greg Biffle for his debut season the following year. Biffle started to run full time in 2003, finishing as the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year standings.
The season 2005 was the most successful for the #16 car and Greg Biffle. He finished as the championship runner-up, behind Tony Stewart. Greg Biffle was driving the #16 Ford for 14 seasons, retiring at the end of 2016. He scored 19 wins and 13 poles in the Cup Series.
Kenseth won the first Cup title for the team
The #17 Ford entered NASCAR’s premier series in 1999, as a part-time entry for Matt Kenseth. In 2000, Kenseth was driving the #17 full season and won the Rookie of the Year honors. The next great success came in 2003 when Kenseth won only one race but consistently good results brought the first ever Cup Series title to the team.
Two Daytona 500 wins for Matt Kenseth
Kenseth’s next successful season was 2006 when he finished as the runner-up behind Jimmie Johnson. In 2009, Kenseth won the first Daytona 500 for Jack Roush. He repeated that three years later, in 2012. It was Kenseth’s last season with Roush-Fenway Racing, he departed to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013. In thirteen full seasons with the team, Kenseth won 24 races, including two wins at Daytona 500.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr in the #17 since 2013
In 2013, Kenseth was replaced by the rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 car. In his debut season, Ricky’s best result was the third place at Talladega Superspeedway. It was the happy place for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. four years later, in May 2017, when he scored his maiden Cup Series victory, by winning the Geico 500.
Kurt Busch was the 2004 Cup Series champion
The second car which won the Cup Series title for Roush Racing was the #97, driven by Kurt Busch in 2004. The #97 car, owned by Greg Pollex, debuted in 1993. Jack Roush bought a team in 1998 and it became the team’s fifth car in the Cup Series, having Chad Little as a driver. Midway through 2000, Little left the team and he was replaced by Roush’s Truck Series driver Kurt Busch.
The first success came in 2002, with four race wins and the third place in the championship. In 2004, Busch became the first champion with new Chase for the Cup format. Midway through the season 2005, Kurt Busch announced he would leave the team at the end of the year. In five seasons, he collected 14 Cup Series wins in the #97 Ford.
Running five cars in the Cup Series until 2009
For the 2006 season, the #97 was renumbered to #26, last used by Roush in 1999. Jamie McMurray was driving the #26 for four seasons, scoring two wins in that period. He won the 2007 Pepsi 400 at Daytona and the 2009 AMP Energy 500 at Talladega. The season 2009 was the final year for the #26 team because of a new NASCAR rule that limits all teams to four full-time cars.
17 wins for Jeff Burton in the #99 Ford
The #99 Ford is yet another longtime entry of Roush Racing. It debuted in 1996, driven by Jeff Burton at Daytona 500. He finished fifth. Burton spent eight and a half seasons in the #99 car, collecting 17 races wins. He scored most wins in 1999 when he visited Victory Lane six times, but his career-best result was the third place in the 2000 championship season.
23 wins for Carl Edwards in the #99
Carl Edwards replaced Burton in the mid-season 2004, continuing to run full time in 2005. In his debut season, Edwards sensationally finished in a tie for the second place in the championship. In 2008, Edwards posted a career-best nine wins in one season, finishing as the runner-up for the second time. The season 2014 was the last for the #99 car and Carl Edwards. In ten seasons, he was the race winner 23 times.
Six championship titles in other NASCAR competitions
While ruling out in the Cup Series, Roush Racing also had exceptional results in other two NASCAR national series, winning six championship titles. The team’s first champion was Greg Biffle, who won the 2000 Truck Series in the #50 Ford F-150. Biffle was a champion again in 2002 but, this time, he won the Busch Series in the #60 Ford Taurus.
The #60 Ford clinched another Busch Series title in 2007, driven by Carl Edwards. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the Nationwide Series champion for two years in a row (2011 and 2012), driving the #6 Ford Mustang. The #60 was the victorious car again in 2015 when Chris Buescher won the Xfinity Series title.
Roush-Yates engines all over the NASCAR teams
Through its almost 30 years long NASCAR history, Roush Racing made many partnerships. Perhaps the most famous is the partnership with now defunct Yates Racing, a longtime rival Ford team. In 2004, two teams announced that they would jointly develop Roush-Yates engines for Fords. That agreement changed NASCAR’s history because by 2006 the most Ford teams were using those engines. Yates Racing closed its doors in 2009 but Roush-Yates engines continued to live until today.
Numerous partnerships with other teams
Through the years, Roush Racing was providing technical support, including engines, chassis and bodies, to many teams. The most known is an alliance with Wood Brothers, the oldest NASCAR team, which started in the mid-2000s. Some other teams which had partnerships with Roush Racing were No Fear Racing, Robby Gordon Motorsports, RPM or Front Row.
Returning to the sports car racing
Roush Racing restarted its road racing program in 2006, entering the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge and Rolex Sports Car Series with Ford Mustang. The drivers were Billy Johnson and Jack Roush’s son, Jack Roush Jr. They finished in the third place of the GS class in 2010, progressing to the second place in 2011. Since 2014, the team was fielding Ford Mustang in the Pirelli World Challenge. In 2015, the partnership with Capaldi Racing started.
Photos: Roush Fenway Racing FB,