Roush Fenway Racing announced Tuesday that the organization plans to downsize to a two car operation for 2017.
RFR will keep Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will be driving the #6 and #17 Ford Fusions in the Sprint Cup Series. The announcement comes just one week after RFR and Greg Biffle, who has been at RFR for a total of 19 years across all three touring series, agreed to part ways at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
RFR has made plenty of headlines since the season conclusion in Miami. After announcing Biffle’s departure, the organization announced that Robbie Reiser, who served as the general manager for RFR for the past few years, was relieved of his duties, but will reportedly remain within company walls in a yet to be determined position. Sponsor ZEST also announced that they will leave the No.17 team, no longer sponsoring Stenhouse Jr.
Via a team release, Jack Roush explained his reasoning for the downsize,
“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,” said Roush Fenway co-owner Jack Roush. “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.”
In addition to the announcement of a downsizing, RFR also confirmed that Chris Buescher, who is currently under contract with RFR, will be loaned to JTG Daughtery Racing for their 2nd team, as well as leasing the now defunct #16 team charter
to JTG for the 2017 season. NASCAR allows teams with a charter — their version of a franchise which guarantees entry into every race — to be leased once every five years. JTG is yet to announce a car number, and sponsor for Buescher. They currently field one car with AJ Allmendinger, who is signed through 2020 with the organization.
RFR is coming off of a lackluster season, with none of its three cars winning a points paying race, or making the Chase, NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. Stenhouse, Bayne, and Biffle finished the season in 21st, 22nd, and 23rd in points respectively. RFR has not visited victory lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since Sonoma in 2014 with former driver Carl Edwards, who left RFR after the 2014 season for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Along with driver announcement, RFR also rearranged part of their crew chief lineup for the 2017 season. Matt Puccia will be atop the box for the No. 6 team once again for next season. As for the No. 16’s crew chief Brian Pattie, he will head to the No. 17 team to oversee Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Nick Sandler, who served as the No. 17 team’s crew chief in 2014 and 2015, will become RFR’s Director of Enginering.