NASCAR Cup: JTG-Daugherty Racing expands while Roush Fenway Racing contracts
Chris Buescher (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Roush Fenway Racing is scaling back its NASCAR premier-level efforts for 2017 and JTG-Daugherty Racing is reaping the benefits. With the announcement of the departure of longtime RFR driver Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway announced on Tuesday that it would scale back from three to two full-time premier-level entries in 2017, shuttering its No. 16 team for which Biffle was driver. Meanwhile, JTG-Daugherty Racing is expanding to two teams. JTG-Daugherty will lease Roush Fenway’s charter for its now-defunct No. 16 team for one year, 2017.
Along with that charter comes driver Chris Buescher. Buescher, under contract with RFR, drove the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports, a team with which Roush Fenway Racing has a technical alliance, in 2016. Although Roush Fenway Racing is a Ford organization and JTG-Daugherty Racing fields Chevrolet, Buescher, still under contract with RFR, will drive the second JTG-Daugherty Chevrolet next season as a teammate to JTG-Daugherty Racing’s returning driver, A.J. Allmendinger.
“We have been able to shore-up our plans for 2017, and we feel that this will continue to move us in a direction that will yield improved performance and results,” Roush Fenway Racing co-owner Jack Roush said. “We saw improvement in our cars and made substantial gains in our performance, at times, last season, and we will continue to build on that by maintaining a robust engineering group in order to take the next step by consistently running up front.”
Buescher, in his first full-season of Sprint Cup Series competition in 2016, won a rain-shortened race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., qualifying him for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He was eliminated from the Chase in the opening round. He tallied two top-five finishes in his rookie campaign, finishing fifth at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway.
Before making the move to Cup, Buescher claimed the Xfinity Series championship in 2015.
Roush Fenway will continue its No. 16 and No. 17 Ford programs with returning drivers, Trevor Bayne (6) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (17). Matt Puccia remains crew chief on the No. 6 team for Bayne. Crew chief Brian Pattie, who headed the efforts for Biffle and the No. 16 team moves to the No. 17 team for Stenhouse, replacing Nick Sandler, who was the crew chief on the No. 17 team in 2015 and 2016. Sandler has been named Roush Fenway Racing Director of Engineering.
Kevin Kidd and Tommy Wheeler have been appointed to the positions of Competition Director and Operations Director at RFR.