With the announcement that Greg Biffle was leaving Roush Fenway Racing after the 2016 season, the inevitable has happened and the team announced on Tuesday that they would field only two cars for the 2017 season after fielding three for the past four seasons.
Returning to the team next season will be Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to field the No. 6 and No. 17 cars, respectively. Bayne will once again have crew chief Matt Puccia at the helm, while Stenhouse will have a new crew chief in Brian Pattie, who moves over from the No. 16 team.
Stenhouse finished the 2016 season with four top-five finishes (season best of second at Bristol in August), six top-10 finishes, six laps led, and an average finish of 19.6 to score a 21st place finish in the final points standings. Bayne finished the season ranked 22nd in points after two top-five finishes (season best finish of third at Daytona in July), five top-10 finishes, and an average finish of 19.9.
Stenhouse’s former crew chief, Nick Sandler, will move into a new role as Director of Engineering for the team. The team also named a new Competition Director in Kevin Kidd, who had served as the Cup Team Manager for the organization over the past two years. Also, a new Operations Director was named in Tommy Wheeler, who has been with Roush Fenway since 2009 in various roles.
Robbie Reiser, the team’s general manager since 2008, will remain with the team in a position that has yet to be determined.
“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. 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,” said Jack Roush.
Since Roush Fenway will be downsizing to two cars in 2017, the charter for the No. 16 team will be leased to JTG Daugherty Racing next season, with Chris Buescher joining the team to field a second car alongside the team’s current driver, AJ Allmendinger. Buescher will remain under contract with Roush Fenway and will be leased to JTG Daugherty in a similar fashion to his deal with Front Row Motorsports in 2016.
Buescher enters 2017 to start his sophomore season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after scoring one win (Pocono), two top-five finishes, two top-10 finishes, 12 laps led, and an average finish of 26.1 in 36 starts during the 2016 season. The win for Buescher at Pocono propelled him into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, where he ended the season ranked 16th in points.
“We can confirm at this time that JTG Daugherty Racing is currently in the process of starting a second team in the NASCAR premier series. We would also like to confirm and welcome Chris Buescher to the team as our driver for the second car,” said JTG Daugherty Racing owner, Tad Geschickter.
“I can confirm that I have signed to race for JTG Daugherty Racing as they expand to a two-car team in the NASCAR premier series in 2017. I’m thankful for the opportunity and look forward to competing for a spot in the Chase,” said Buescher.
Aside from the announcement that Buescher will be joining the team, no other details on the second car that Buescher will be driving as far as the number, sponsor, or crew chief were released. Those details should be forthcoming in the days and weeks ahead.