For over two decades, Roush Fenway Racing had been one of the NASCAR Xfinity Series‘ premier teams. However, its time in NASCAR’s second tier has come to an end. A Thursday article on NBC Sports revealed a radio interview by Team President Steve Newmark, who stated the programme would not remain for the 2019 season as the team intends to focus on the Monster Energy Cup Series.
“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 stated on SiriusXM. “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.”
RFR driver Ty Majeski initially broke the news during December’s Snowball Derby; while no formal announcement was made, the report was shared on Reddit and confirmed by an employee of the #60 Xfinity team in the comments section.
In 2018, RFR fielded two full-time Xfinity cars: the #16 for Ryan Reed and #60 for Majeski, Austin Cindric, and Chase Briscoe. Reed finished eleventh in points with ten top-ten finishes, while the #60 infamously struggled as it was involved in numerous wrecks throughout the season. The #60 car concluded the year twenty-second in the owner’s standings with five top tens. IndyCar Series veteran Conor Daly also made his NASCAR debut in a third car, the #6, at Road America, where he finished thirty-first.
Reed, who has been sponsored by Lilly Diabetes for much of his career, lost the sponsorship in October. His 2019 plans have not been revealed. Majeski intends to return to Super Late Models, while Cindric and Briscoe will run the full 2019 Xfinity schedule with Team Penske and Stewart-Haas Racing, respectively.
Roush’s Xfinity team was formed in 1993, driven by Cup regular Mark Martin. The programme went on to score five Driver’s Championships (2002 with Greg Biffle, 2007 with Carl Edwards, 2011 and 2012 with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and 2015 with Chris Buescher) and 137 race wins.
“[W]hen 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,” Newmark added in the interview. “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.”
Stenhouse, who has driven for the team’s Cup branch since 2013, will remain in the #17 for 2019. Ryan Newman will partner him in the #6, moving from Richard Childress Racing.
“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.”