Owners - Jack Roush and John Henry
Manufacturer - Ford
Cars and Drivers
No. 17 DeWalt
Roush Fenway Racing produced another good Nextel Cup season in 2007, but it wasn't as successful as those it is accustomed to. Matt Kenseth finished the 2007 season fourth in points in the No. 17 DeWalt Ford. Kenseth has not finished outside the top 10 in points since the 2001 season. Perhaps the best relationship Kenseth has in Roush is with his crew chief, Robbie Reiser. The two have been with one another from the beginning of Kenseth's Sprint Cup career, and they won a championship in 2003. Two wins, 13 top fives and 22 top 10s in 2007 indicate that this pairing was still a formidable force, but now Reiser is moving to a new position in the organization.
With Reiser moving to general manager, engineer Chip Bolin will take over as the No. 17 crew chief. This could be a disruption, but Roush made a lot of progress with the Car of Tomorrow at the end of 2007. There is no reason to think Kenseth won't continue to be a contender in 2008.
No. 99 Office Depot
Roush's second driver in the 2007 Chase for the Cup was Carl Edwards, in the No. 99 Ford. The team scored three victories with 11 top fives and 15 top 10s.
Guiding the team to impressive results has been crew chief Bob Osborne. The team has been together since the end of the 2005 season, when Jeff Burton left. Edwards and the No. 99 team have not finished a full season lower than 12th in points. Making the Chase is an expectation of every member of this team.
No. 16 3M
Greg Biffle will start his sixth full season in the No. 16 Ford in 2008, along with his crew chief, Greg Erwin. Biffle finished 14th in points in 2007, missing the Chase for the Cup. One pole and one win in 2007 would have been considered good for most teams, but after finishing second in points with six wins in 2005, the No. 16 team is looking to make the Chase and win the championship every season.
It may be a difficult in 2008 to achieve that goal with Ford being the only manufacturer without an engine that has undergone an evolution. However, the stability in the No. 16 team may be able to overcome that fact and make the Chase. National Guard has left the team as sponsor in a move to Hendrick Motorsports, and 3M have taken over as primary sponsor.
No. 26 Crown Royal
Possibly the biggest disappointment for Roush in 2007 was the No. 26 team with driver Jamie McMurray. The team won one race and a pole and had three top fives and nine top 10s in 2007. Crew chief Larry Carter was new to McMurray and the No. 26 team in 2007. Disappointingly, they finished 14th in the points standings, and McMurray continued his streak of not making the Chase. For McMurray, 2008 could be a make-or-break season, and with a $20 million yearly salary, it may be time for him to truly earn it.
No. 6 AAA
Car No. 6 driver David Ragan, the lowest placed Roush driver, placed 23rd in Cup points. Ragan had three top-10 finishes, including two top fives, in 2007 and qualified for all 36 races. In 2008 the No. 6 team will return with Ragan in his second full year with championship winning crew chief Jimmy Fennig. If there is any doubt about the No. 6 team's ability to move further up the standings, it could be put to rest knowing that Fennig is at the helm, tutoring sophomore Ragan.
Equipment and Resources
Ford finished 2007 behind only Chevrolet. Leading the Ford charge in 2007 was Roush, which earned all of the manufacturer's wins. While seven wins was nowhere near Chevrolet's total, Ford was only 82 points out of the manufacturer's title - quite an astounding feat.
In 2008 all manufacturers will have a new engine evolution, except Ford, which isn't expected to introduce a new version until 2009. This could be a disadvantage. Roush has a history of being the leader of the Ford camp, so wherever Ford falls, expect Roush to be at the top. Additionally, the team started coming on strong with the COT at the end of 2007. If the Ford teams aren't at too big of a disadvantage, expect Kenseth to challenge for the title. Biffle and Edwards have great chances at making the Chase, and so do Ragan and McMurray if they can improve their consistency.
About C.J. Radune
Radune has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.
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