By admin | February 14, 2009
By Richard Allen
Roush Fenway Racing has developed somewhat of a reputation as a five car team made up of three elites and two ‘others’.
Well, something has to give by the end of this season. NASCAR has mandated that no organization will be allowed to field more than four cars after this 2009. That ruling was to originally take effect this year but because RFR had sponsorship agreements for five cars running through 2009 they were allowed to maintain that number for an extra year.
It is highly unlikely that Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards or Greg Biffle will be impacted by the trimming of the roster to take place before this time next year. So, that leaves David Ragan and Jamie McMurray to race it out for the one remaining spot on the team.
Both of those drivers have a contract through the end of this season. So, both face the possibility of not being renewed.
Ragan, driver of the #6 Ford, is about to enter his third full season as a Sprint Cup driver. Last year, he showed marked improvement. He had six Top 5s and 14 Top 10s over the course of 2008. He finished 13th in the overall standings.
The #6 car has landed a new sponsor for 2009 and beyond. UPS has left Michael Waltrip Racing to place its brown logos on RFR‘s machines.
McMurray will be driving in his 7th season at the Sprint Cup level. It will be his fourth campaign for RFR.
McMurray won the July race in Daytona in his #26 Ford year before last. Last year, he had four Top 5s and 11 Top 10s on his way to a 16th place result in the overall standings.
It should be considered, however, that three of his four Top 5 runs were in the last three races of the season. He actually finished 2008 with three consecutive 3rd place efforts.
A case could be made for either of these two staying. Ragan has the new sponsor which would seem to be a good reason for him to remain in place. McMurray had a new crew chief brought in for this season which would seem an odd move for a driver a team was planning to get rid of.
Either of these two drivers could be the one to be let go. If one clearly outperforms the other, the better is likely to stay.
Both of these drivers could be let go. If neither of them does well, both are likely to be sent away and an entirely new person brought in.
In the end, it is a good possibility that one of these teams will simply be moved across the street and raced under the Yates Racing banner in order to comply with the NASCAR mandate. The question is will one, both or neither of the current drivers be employed by Roush Fenway Racing and/or Yates Racing in 2010?
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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