Analysis: What went wrong for Roush Fenway Racing at the Coke 600

Qualifying for last weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 offered offered Roush Fenway Racing’s Sprint Cup teams much promise. Race day was a different story.

Analysis: What went wrong for Roush Fenway Racing at the Coke 600
Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing Toyota leads a restart
Jack Roush
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Trevor Bayne, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

What happened?

All three of Roush’s cup drivers – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (third), Greg Biffle (sixth) and Trevor Bayne (10th) – qualified in the top 10 for last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

However, when the record-setting pace was finally slowed with Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating win, Biffle came away with the best performance of the group – 11th. Stenhouse was 15th and Bayne 25th.

The results were very similar to the race at Kansas Speedway (another 1.5-mile track) earlier this month, when Stenhouse qualified ninth and finished 13th; Biffle qualified 20th and finished 27th; and Bayne started 10th and finished 25th.

While the Roush organization has improved – dramatically at times – over the last few seasons, clearly hurdles remain.

Greg Biffle

“It was a hard-fought battle and I think we’re gaining on it,” Biffle said after the race. “It’s frustrating that we didn’t get up to the top-five, but at times we could run top-five lap times.

“It’s a huge amount of progress from where we’ve been, but we clearly have a little ways to go. Everybody is working hard and hopefully we’ll get there soon.” 

Biffle’s No. 16 Ford team struggle for front grip much of the race before finally able to run much more consistently after the sun went down. He was 10th on the final restart of the race with 56 of 200 laps remaining and lost one position on the green-flag run.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

A 15th place finish for Stenhouse would generally be considered a solid run considering the past two seasons, but he was disappointed in the result.

“We really struggled with the handling,” Stenhouse said after the race. “Our team is definitely improving, especially if we are upset with a 15th-place finish.

“All of our Roush Fenway Racing Fords showed speed in qualifying so we have the speed now, we just need to work on the handling. All in all, it was a good week for us.”

Trevor Bayne

Bayne’s No. 6 team got off to a rough start when the driver was caught speeding on pit road during a round of green-flag pit stops early in the race – a very costly penalty.

“We had a lot thrown at us,” said Bayne after the race. “We fought a tight-handling car throughout the night but were beginning to make gains on it before our penalty and before we got that damage to the nose.

Bayne picked up damage to the front of his car during a restart on Lap 209 and it remained a nagging hindrance the remainder of the race.

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