DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Even with NASCAR’s regular schedule on hold, Roush Fenway Racing has found a way to provide fans with the thrill of competition.
RFR is pitting its long list of drivers against one another in a March Madness-style bracket of fun, intrigue and suspense called #RoushMadness.
The idea is to have fans decide on social media the “greatest driver” in Roush Fenway Racing history and includes a “Who’s Who” list of all 58 names who have started a NASCAR race for the team.
The list ranges from competitors who only raced a single time under the RFR banner, like USAC star Kevin Swindell and IndyCar’s Conor Daly, to former competitors such as Kenny Wallace, Greg Biffle and NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin.
Of course, the bracket also includes current RFR drivers Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher.
Just looking at the list of drivers is a stark reminder of the storied history of Roush Fenway Racing. Narrowing down the roster to a single favorite may be almost as hard as it was competing against some of these great talents.
And it’s all been a good outlet as the country continues to deal with the COVID-19 virus pandemic that has postponed sports competition for now.
Daly, a 28-year old open-wheel star, advanced farther in the contest than he says he imagined. He made only a single NASCAR Xfinity Series start for Roush – starting 15th and finishing 31st on the iconic Road America road course race in 2018.
But Daly earned what the Roush Fenway team considers the “tournament upset” to date.
Daly was a No. 15 seed and defeated the No. 2 seed, Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner – who raced in both the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series with Roush – by a margin of 10 votes.
Daly ultimately lost to the team’s No. 7 seed Newman in the next round, but he was humbled to be included in the contest and said he hopes fans had as much fun with it as he did.
“It’s pretty cool to be honest,” Daly said. “I thought it was a really creative idea but also, I never even expected to be a part of something like that. I thought it was super cool and an honor to be in a bracket with so many talented guys and legends of the sport as well.
“I was only a one-race guy, but would have loved to do more. I really enjoyed my time with Roush. It was fun.”
Buescher, the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion who currently drives the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, said he also had a lot of fun with the project and was happy to find a way to engage with fans.
He advanced to the Round of 16, defeating Brian Ickler and Erik Darnell, but ultimately fell to Carl Edwards.
“How are they going to put me on same side of the bracket as Carl Edwards, that’s what I want to know,” Buescher joked.
“It’s been neat,” he continued. “I’m not a big sports fan outside of racing so I was joking that I’d only filled out two [March Madness basketball] brackets in my life, the first in Xfinity days when they had me fill out a bracket and I just picked the ones with the coolest names. I ended up getting knocked out the first three games.
“I took a similar approach to this bracket,” he conceded. “It was a mix of people. I took Billy Johnson pretty far into it, basing that on road racing. Naturally, I brought myself all the way to the end because I’m hopeful like that. I think I had Stanton Barrett beating out Carl Edwards just so I wouldn’t have to go against Carl Edwards. But here we are.”
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