SWOT: Roush Fenway Racing

Trevor Bayne (left) with crew chief Matt Puccia

The NASCAR preseason is a time of constructive criticism for Motorsports Analytics. Eschewed are the normal season reviews and previews, and in their stead are my SWOT analyses. A strength, weakness, opportunity and threat for each key Cup Series organization will be dissected. They’re analyses of hard truths. No favors are done, and no punches are pulled.

Today, I analyze the teams of Roush Fenway Racing, the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne and No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse.

Strength: Awareness

Last year, Roush Fenway Racing added to its competition department in response to a very clear speed decline. This year, they’ve removed Mark McArdle and longtime competition czar Robbie Reiser, and replaced them with Kevin Kidd and Tommy Wheeler in an effort to allow some of last year’s hires, as well as new engineering director Nick Sandler, an opportunity to modernize a race shop that was last effective about five years ago.

To be clear, Roush didn’t have fast racecars last year — their three entries ranked 20th, 22nd and 25th in average green-flag speed, per timing and scoring data supplied to Motorsports Analytics — and were shut out of the playoffs for the second straight season. Unlike many of their peers, though, they’re fully aware of their shortcomings and are attempting to correct them.

There will come a point in which Roush will need better, more productive drivers than the ones currently at their disposal, but at this juncture they aren’t in a position to nit-pick. That Greg Biffle, regardless of how much he is overrating his own ability in the winter of his career, chose employment limbo over another season of making seven figures to ride around in a sub-par car should serve as a wakeup call. This place isn’t yet a destination, but the sprucing up has commenced … Read More

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