Roush Fenway's Jack Roush says pandemic "has really hit us hard"

There are numerous ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected NASCAR this season and none of them have done Roush Fenway Racing any favors.

Roush Fenway's Jack Roush says pandemic "has really hit us hard"
Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Progressive Insurance
Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Wyndham Rewards
Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Castrol
Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Fastenal
Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Fifth Third Bank Ford Mustang
Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang
#6: Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Koch Industries
Crash of Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Koch Industries
Chris Buescher, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford Mustang Fastenal

With three races remaining until the 2020 Cup Series playoff field is set, both RFR drivers – Chris Buescher and Ryan Newman – are on the outside looking in.

Buescher is 22nd in the series standings and Newman 25th. Both drivers’ playoff hopes rest in winning one of the three remaining races – a doubleheader this weekend at Dover, Del., and Aug. 30 on the Daytona oval.

“I’m obviously disappointed because at this late date we still don’t have cars in the (playoffs),” team co-owner Jack Roush said Tuesday. “But this viral epidemic and the shutdown that has gone with it – the lack of practice time and the lack of a chance to get the drivers as close as they need to to the crew chiefs – has really hit us hard.

“Of course, Ryan lost time because of his accident at Daytona and he was coming into his second year with us and we had hopes of being able to capitalize on the first year, which has not helped us out as much as I’d hoped.

“Of course, Chris and (crew chief) Luke Lambert were new to one another and they’ve had very little chance to build the kind of chemistry that it takes to really be successful at this level, so we’ve had an uphill battle all year.”

Missed chances

Newman was on the verge of winning the season-opening Daytona 500 when he was collected in a last-lap wreck. He suffered a closed head injury and missed the next three races while recovering.

The pandemic then put the sport on a two-month hiatus and since the restart of the season, NASCAR no longer holds practices or qualifying prior to the races. All the pre-race preparation has to be done at the shop before driver or team arrive at the track.

“We’ve had streaks of brilliance. If we’d have had better track position we might have been able to capitalize and gotten a win earlier,” Roush said. “Of course, we missed a chance at Daytona. We missed a chance at Talladega.

“We hope that the next Daytona will be great for us. We can’t get both (drivers) in at Daytona, but hopefully we can get one of them in if Jimmy Fennig (superspeedway program director) delivers the kind of cars he’s had for us in the recent past.”

Newman’s best finish since the restart of the season was 12th at Martinsville, Va., and he’s finished 13th at both Texas and the second Michigan race.

Buescher is coming off his second-best finish of the season, fifth in Sunday’s inaugural race on the Daytona Road Course, which replaced the canceled race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

“Chris won his first race in the Xfinity Series at Mid-Ohio and he’s demonstrated to be a better road racer than people would have expected from his background to come in,” Roush said. “He’s

a natural and if we get the right kind of chemistry relationship with the crew chief and with the engineering and get him better parts to work with, I think that he’ll rise right to the top in road racing.

“Chris has got a great future. I certainly have enjoyed being part of his championship in the Xfinity Series and look forward to a lot of success with him coming down the road.”

What ifs...

Roush said he tends not to dwell on the ‘what-ifs’ surrounding Newman’s 500 performance, which nearly resulted in a victory, which would have locked him in the playoffs.

“That last 100 yards or eighth-of-a-mile on a restrictor-plate race is very much in doubt and anybody that counts on winning a race because they’re in the top two or three positions going into that last charge is probably not understanding or not respecting as much as they should what the risks are,” he said.

“We’ve won races in the last eighth-of-a-mile and, of course, we’ve lost several of them. But, yeah, I think we would have been a little more relaxed race to race and maybe have taken some chance on some set-up ideas if we were confident of our (playoff) status and not had to think about every race as an opportunity to win.”


Read Also:

shares
comments
Erik Jones has "a lot of unfinished business" in NASCAR
Previous article

Erik Jones has "a lot of unfinished business" in NASCAR

Next article

$70,000 on the line in eNASCAR Heat Pro League finale

$70,000 on the line in eNASCAR Heat Pro League finale
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021