CONCORD, N.C. – For the first time in more than a quarter of a century, Roush Fenway Racing will not field a car in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Team president Steve Newmark confirmed Wednesday night on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Dialed In” that RFR will keep its attention solely on its two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars for the upcoming season, which kicks off at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Feb. 16.
Ryan Newman is joining the team to drive the No. 6 Ford Mustang this year, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will continue to drive the No. 17 Ford Mustang.
“We’re going to focus exclusively on both of those Cup teams (in 2019) and realized we needed to allocate all of our resources there,” Newmark told show host Claire B. Lang. “We’ve fluctuated on the number of the teams in the Xfinity Series and a lot of that has been based on need. We’ve been four, we’ve been one, and I think (2019) we’ve decided on how we’re positioned we’ll step out of that for a year and see how that goes and just focus all the resources, all the engineering, all the wind tunnel on making sure that we perform to our expectations at the Cup level.”
Newmark didn’t shy away from answering whether sponsorship was a factor in the team’s decision to step back from NASCAR’s second-highest level, either.
“There’s no doubt that sponsorship plays a factor in everything that we do. For better or worse, that’s the way NASCAR is structured right now and sponsorship is the lifeblood for the teams,” noted Newmark. “My hope is that at some point in time we continue to evolve to a model that moves a little bit way from that. But that was just a factor. We had a great run with Lilly Diabetes … five full seasons, and we handled the Ford driver development program last year. The Xfinity Series is something that Jack (Roush) has always been passionate about.
“But when we look at where we are and what we needed to focus on, we just felt like that all the resources should be dedicated to Cup. We’ve always used Xfinity as a feeder series … for Cup, and when we look at our drivers, we’ve got those guys locked up and we think that they’re going to be with us for a number of years. We look at the engineering talent, we look at our crew chiefs, and we kind of felt like we had all the pieces of the puzzle in place and so really what we need to do is go out and execute at the Cup level and we’ll see where we end up in Xfinity in the future.”
Roush Fenway Racing fielded two cars full time in the Xfinity Series this year. Ryan Reed drove the No. 16 and contended for the driver’s championship, making the playoffs and finishing 11th in points, while Ty Majeski, Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric all split time in the team’s No. 60 entry. That car finished 22nd in owner points.