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Two cars new sweet spot in NASCAR team ownership

Given the continued success of Team Penske and Furniture Row Racing in 2017, the somewhat new-found sucess of Chip Ganassi Racing and the resurgence of Roush Fenway Racing, I’m thinking a two-car tally is the new sweet spot in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team ownership. Meanwhile, the struggles of four-car juggernaut Joe Gibbs Racing and slight struggle of four-car traditional powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports further my opinion.
To say Roush Fenway had struggled in recent years leading into 2017 would be an understatement, illustrated in part by some of its former stars jumping the seemingly-sinking ship. First, Matt Kenseth left for the greener pastures of Joe Gibbs Racing. Soon after, Carl Edwards mirrored Kenseth’s path from Roush to Gibbs. Then, Greg Biffle jumped ship, even though he didn’t have another ride to go to. Heck, to Biffle, sitting on the sidelines was, apparently, better than piloting an RFR entry.
But look at Roush Fenway now. Car owner Jack Roush has scaled back to a two-car operation, and things are going well, best illustrated by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. snapping a 100-plus race winless streak for the organization Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. And it wasn’t like Stenhouse’s win came from out of nowhere; he has three top-fives and five top-10s in the first 10 races of the season. Both those stats are just one race shy of his previous best entire-season tallies. As for teammate Trevor Bayne — he has one top-10, so far, this season.
Then, there’s Team Penske. Consistent success is nothing new for this team, but I want to point out that it’s a two car team. Only two drivers have multiple wins this season — Jimmie Johnson and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano also has a win this season. Granted that win was deemed “encumbered” by NASCAR, so it won’t have any impact on his playoffs entry or benefit him if and when he gets to the playoffs, but in the books, it’s still a race win.
Then, there’s Chip Ganassi Racing. Kyle Larson not only has a win, that win is one of five top-two finishes in the first 10 races. That’s no typo; that’s top-two, not to be mistaken for mere top-fives. As for his teammate, Jamie McMurray? Well, McMurray has six top-10s in the first 10 races.
And, last but not least, take a look at Furniture Row Racing. Martin Truex Jr. has a win for the two-car FRR this year. That win is among stats that include two top-fives and six top-10s, 10 races into the season. His teammate, Erik Jones, is a rookie this year. I take that in consideration when studying his stats that only include a single top-10 finish.
Let’s break down results, so far, 10 races into the season. These four two-car teams (Penske, Ganassi, Furniture Row and Roush) have combined to win 60 percent of the 10 races. That’s over half, folks.
Then, consider the results of some other multi-car teams, primarily Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports, the traditionally premier four-car teams in the sports.
Hendrick Motorsports has two 2017 wins to its credit, both coming from Johnson. But Johnson is the reigning and seven-time Cup champion, after all. Don’t we expect those results from him? Meanwhile, the rest of the HMS stable has struggled. Heck, even Johnson struggled before that first win of the year.
Johnson’s two wins are almost all the wins turned in by four-car teams this year. The only other one came from four-car team Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch. Busch opened the season with a Daytona 500 win, but, quite frankly, he hasn’t done squat since.
The one win still unaccounted for came from Ryan Newman from the three-car Richard Childress Racing driver stable.
In the rundown of where wins have come from this season, there was a glaring absence — Joe Gibbs Racing. This is the four-car team that won five of the first 10 races last year. Sure, Carl Edwards is out and Daniel Suarez in at JGR, but Edwards didn’t account for a disproportionate amount of JGR’s wins last year. Also worth noting — JGR isn’t just struggling to get to victory lane, the four-car team has struggled to run up front consistently in the first 10 races. JGR driver Kyle Busch seems to like to blame Goodyear these days and implied that Sunday’s race at Talladega wasn’t at a real race track, but there are bigger things going on at JGR.
The aforementioned Furniture Row Racing has a seemingly tight technical alliance with JGR, but the troubles of the four-car JGR don’t seem to be bothering the two-car FRR.
There were days when multi-car team ownership was frowned on in NASCAR. Then, in its heyday, Roush Fenway Racing was a five-car operation, cutting back to four teams only when NASCAR enacted a four-car cap. Dominance, first, by Hendrick Motorsports, and then, Joe Gibbs Racing showed four cars was the way to go, for a time.
Now, though, I think it’s pretty obvious that two is the magic number.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on May 9, 2017. Filed under Blog by Amanda Vincent,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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