Stenhouse, all of Roush carrying momentum into Bristol

By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor

Roush Fenway Racing is coming off of arguably its strongest race in a couple of seasons.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne were top-10 competitors all night long in the Duck Commander 500 at Texas, and Greg Biffle was a solid top-15 car as well. However, they all faced difficult outcomes. Stenhouse was collected in a 13-car pileup, Bayne was caught a lap down by a wonky pit strategy and Biffle was crashed by Kasey Kahne.

But nonetheless you can feel the momentum building for the organization.

Tribute Racing talked to Stenhouse last week in Texas, and he said the organization was like night and day from last year.

“It is, and the thing is our cars are better,” Stenhouse said. “Everybody at Roush Fenway in every department is working really hard making sure they don’t miss anything and making sure we’ve got everything where it needs to be and the cars are just faster. They’re driving better. They’re driving like us drivers like them.”

Stenhouse is certainly carrying the Roush Fenway banner through seven races this year, as he sits 17th in the standings. Bayne is 23rd, and Biffle is ranked 27th.

Last year, Biffle was the only RFR driver in the top-20 of the standings when the checkerd flag was shown in Homestead, and nobody else in the stable seemed poised to challenge. But now this year, Stenhouse has impressed, they also have Bayne flirting with the top-20 and if Biffle could find some luck he may improve soon as well.

According to Stenhouse, the Roush resurgence actually started in the second half of 2015.

“We made progress at the end of last year versus the beginning of last year and we were able to capitalize on that and continue to make progress,” Stenhouse explained. “Still got a long ways to go to get up there and compete each and every week up front like we want, but we’re definitely gaining on it.”

The Sprint Cup Series heads into a track this weekend where Stenhouse in particular, and the entire Roush Fenway team should feel comfortable — Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Well we always have fun at Bristol. And that’s been probably one of my best tracks in the Sprint Cup Series has been Bristol, so you know I think that’s another race track [I’m looking forward to],” Stenhouse said.

In all, Stenhouse has two top-five finishes in six starts in Thunder Valley, which includes a runner-up effort in this race back in 2014, and a fourth place finish in the race here last fall. Stenhouse’s average finish of 11.2 at Bristol, is best among active drivers.

Biffle like Stenhouse has never won at the half-mile track, but is pretty strong there as well. Biffle has 13 career top-10s at this track and a solid average finish of 13.1.

Bayne hasn’t had much luck at his hometown track, but one of the things the Roush Fenway Racing drivers have fed on in 2016 is banding together.

“[Working with my teammates has] been real good. I think everybody’s been this year just knowing that were all going to have to work together to make sure we continue the progress that we’ve been on,” said Stenhouse last week. “It’s not just one team it’s all our teams. You know we’re working together, we’re working real hard to make sure we get all the information that we can from each team and put it together.”

With input from Stenhouse and Biffle being filtered down to Bayne, perhaps all three Roush Fenway Racing teams can have another good weekend this week in Bristol.

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Toby Christie is a contributing writer for Motorsports Tribune. He has been watching stock cars turn left since 1993, and has covered NASCAR as an accredited media member since 2007. Toby is a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA). Additionally, Toby is a lifelong Miami Dolphins fan, sub-par guitarist and he is pretty good around a mini-golf course.

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