Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark is ready for the bulk of the 2021 season. After a few up and down races, he believes drivers Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher have what it takes to not only compete for wins, but make the playoffs. With Buescher winning the opening stage at Homestead and Newman slowly getting back to his 2019 form, things are looking up for RFR.
BY JOSEPH WOLKIN, @JoeWolkin
“Personally, it was very fulfilling. It’s a business and you have to make business decisions. Chris is genuinely one of the nicest people in the sport, and we were fortunate to groom him and bring him up through our system. Obviously at the time, we didn’t have space for him. So to have the opportunity arise and get him back in the fold has been really fulfilling on many levels. I think Chris would tell you his expectations for last year were significantly higher than we achieved. Part of the issue -- everybody has things they have to wrestle with -- was a new crew chief, a new driver and we went with no practice. You can see the progression where we would often struggle in the first half of a race and once the crew chief and Chris could make adjustments to the car, they were dialed in for the second half. With how competitive the series is today, you have to be on your game the entire race.”
“Interestingly, this year is one of the more difficult years to improve because the rules package is locked. Usually, there is an ability to innovate. But the sport made the decision, which the teams endorsed, that because the Next Gen platform was delayed by a year, it didn’t make sense to open the rules for a lame duck year to have dollars spent on a product that would no longer exist in 2022. It’s the right business decision and right direction for the sport, but it makes it a little more difficult. I’m still very confident that having the experience with Chris and his crew chief together and having Ryan back should put us in a better position to succeed.”
“What has driven the Next Gen is making the cars more relevant for the OEMs, updating the technology, providing a platform where we can move to hybridization and electrification if we wanted and making more competitive racing across the board. Those are the key factors. It does a benefit of making the business more streamlined and efficient. The reality of it is we won’t know that until we see how the model plays out in the next couple of years. That said, Nascar is taking all of the right steps in how they run the process for the single-source suppliers and how they’ve collaborated with the teams for the design.”