Big Changes Have Roush Fenway Racing Looking Much Different In 2017

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Roush Fenway Racing is the winningest team in NASCAR history, but sustained success doesn’t come without change, something the team went through much of during last offseason.

The team hasn’t made NASCAR’s playoffs in either of the last two seasons, and hasn’t won a race since 2014. After a disappointing stretch, shake-ups were inevitable. But sometimes change is a good thing, as the team hopes for a return to the winner’s circle.

To catch you up to speed, we’ve recapped the highlights of a busy offseason at Roush Fenway.

Greg Biffle’s departure

After spending 19 years with RFR, Greg Biffle and the team announced in November that they were parting ways. As a member of RFR, Biffle won 19 Cup races and qualified for the Chase eight times.

“We’ve had an incredible run and I am so appreciative for the opportunity to be a part of Roush Fenway,” Biffle said in November. “For a kid that grew up in Washington, I’m extremely proud of everything we have been able to accomplish over the last 19 years — both on and off the track.”

Downsizing

Shortly after Biffle’s departure, RFR announced that it was downsizing its Cup team. The team will field two cars during the 2017 NASCAR season, the first time since 1995 that RFR has fielded only two cars on the Cup level. Although Biffle no longer will be around, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne will continue to drive the No. 17 and No. 6 Ford Fusions, respectively.

The downsizing also included the leasing of development driver Chris Buescher, as well as the No. 16 NASCAR charter, to JTG Daugherty Racing, a Chevrolet team.

“We have been able to shore up our plans for 2017 and we feel that this will continue to move us in a direction that will yield improved performance and results,” RFR co-owner Jack Roush said in November. “We saw improvement in our cars and made substantial gains in our performance at times last season, and we will continue to build on that by maintaining a robust engineering group in order to take the next step by consistently running up front.”

Managerial changes

Robbie Reiser Greg BifflePhoto via Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images

Drivers weren’t the only RFR staff on the move during the offseason. Kevin Kidd will serve as the team’s competition director, after previously serving as RFR’s Cup team manager, and Tommy Wheeler, who oversaw production of RFR’s Cup and Xfinity cars, now will be the team’s competition director.

Moreover, the team moved on from former general manager Robbie Reiser, according to NBC Sports, and Stenhouse and Bayne saw multiple staff changes within their respective crews.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s move to Ford

Although it’s not a direct change within RFR, Stewart-Haas Racing’s move to Ford could have a big impact on the team. Having SHR and Team Penske, two top-tier NASCAR teams, in the Ford camp should benefit all teams involved, if for no other reason than the ability to share valuable information.

Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images

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