There is no doubt about it that the Roush Fenway team struggled heavily throughout the 2014 season. It didn’t make a difference whether it was the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or the Nationwide Series. The team struggled as a whole and lacked speed to the competition.
Roush has had a similar problem in the past. Back in 2010, it wasn’t until fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle won at Pocono in early August to turn the season around. But this year was different; the speed wasn’t there.
It was the biggest known secret in the garage that Carl Edwards was leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of 2014. On the morning of the Brickyard 400, the organization made that news official. Although he was departing at season’s end, Edwards was the lone positive for Roush this past year. He had two wins in 2014, Bristol and the road course at Sonoma.
Though Edwards won twice, the consistency was not there. Over Edwards’ career at Roush Fenway Racing, inconsistency could describe more than one year of his tenure with the organization. His seven top five finishes this year is his lowest since 2012. His 14 top-10’s are also his lowest since 2012, but if not for the struggles that seasons, it would be tied for a career-low. it would be tied for a career low in comparison to the 2009 season. Statistically speaking, the 2009 and 2014 seasons are very similar to each other, except for winning two races, as to where he didn’t win in 2009. Edwards only led 135 laps in 2014, which is a career-low for the Colombia, Missouri native. This is by far the least time he spent up front over the course of a year.
While at the Sprint Cup Series banquet honoring Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, Edwards got emotional when giving his farewell address to Roush Fenway Racing. He had very high praise for his only car owner that he has ever had at the Sprint Cup level, Jack Roush.
“You are a man among men,“ said Edwards. “You’ve given me opportunities that I never dreamed of.”
Now that his time is done with Roush Fenway Racing, Edwards will move on to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2015 season and beyond. With the pairing of Darian Grubb, expect the No. 19 Toyota Camry to be fast from the green flag at Daytona to the checkered flag at Homestead.
Trevor Bayne will pilot the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford for Roush Fenway Racing during the 2015 season, bringing back the car number made famous by Mark Martin. Bayne will finally get his long awaited first full-time season behind the wheel of a Cup Series car.
Ever since winning the Daytona 500 in 2011, Bayne hasn’t performed all that well. In four full time Nationwide Series seasons, Bayne has only accumulated two wins. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 2013 season where Bayne, really caught a break. After winning the 500 in 2011, Bayne fought multiple sclerosis off and on, causing him to miss multiple races.
The 2011 season was supposed to be Bayne’s breakout year. But multiple sclerosis sidelined him for six races. Late in 2011 he won his first Nationwide Series race at Texas. In 2012, he only raced six times due to a lack of funding.
Now that Bayne will be competing full-time at NASCAR’s top-tier series, there are a lot of unknowns on what to expect from Bayne. When he announced in May that he would be making the move to the Cup Series circuit with Roush, he got very emotional when talking about the Wood Brothers.
Bayne has been racing part-time for the Wood Brothers at the Sprint Cup level ever since the end of 2010. The Tennessee-native has only tallied three top-10 finishes in 58 career starts at the top level of auto racing, and only one on a non-restrictor plate track.
With the lack of success from Roush Fenway Racing in 2014, it seems like 2015 would be a bad time to make a debut with a new team. The performance from teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was almost non-existent. He finished 27th in the final point standings and only had five top-10 finishes after missing the fall race at Talladega.
When comparing the Nationwide Series numbers of Bayne and Stenhouse with Roush, Stenhouse’s numbers are very appealing. The 2013 Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year had eight wins between the 2011 and 2012 seasons, which he won both championships. Then he earned a job in the Sprint Cup Series, and has underperformed compared to the high expectations he was given. For Bayne’s case, hopefully this doesn’t happen to him.
With Daytona and Talladega making up three of the twenty-six regular season races, it is very possible that Bayne wins one of those races and gets into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He always runs up front at plate races, and it is an opportunity for him to make his first Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Bayne is one of the classiest guys that NASCAR has to offer. If he happens to succeed in his first full time season as a Sprint Cup driver, it will be beneficial to his career and prove that hard work does pay off.