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01/04 2019

ROUSH FENWAY RACING SHUTTERS NASCAR XFINITY SERIES PROGRAM

Roush Fenway Racing shutters NASCAR Xfinity Series program

Roush Fenway Racing has shuttered its Xfinity Series program for the 2019 season due to a lack of funding.PHOTO BY MOTORSPORT IMAGE – LAT

The team is the most successful in the history of the second-tier tour

BY:  MATT WEAVER

The once mighty Roush Fenway Racing NASCAR Xfinity Series program will cease to exist in 2019. Team president Steve Newmark confirmed the long-rumored decision during a segment on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The reason, of course, is to strengthen the once-mighty Roush Fenway Racing Cup Series program, which has also faded from prominence in recent years. The team will field cars for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Newman. This will be the first time in 25 years that the team will not field a car in NASCAR’s second-tier division.

“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 SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “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 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.”

Roush entered the Xfinity Series in 1993 with Mark Martin, back when the tour was the Busch Grand National Division, winning seven of 14 starts. The No. 60 entry was the most dominant team on the tour for the better part of a decade. The organization leads all Xfinity Series teams with 138 victories. It has also captured five championships with drivers Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Stenhouse (twice) and Chris Buescher.

Roush fielded two Xfinity Series cars in 2018 — one for full-time driver Ryan Reed and a Ford development driver car shared by Ty Majeski, Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric. The latter car was for all intents and purposes, cursed, as it was involved in 27 different crashes or spins across 33 different races.

Reed’s sponsorship, Lilly Diabetes, chose not to renew with the team, and he remains a free agent. Briscoe has joined Stewart-Haas Racing full time in 2019 after winning the Charlotte Roval Xfinity race for the team. Cindric will race for Team Penske’s Xfinity team in 2019; he is the son of team president Tim Cindric.

“There’s no doubt that sponsorship plays a factor in everything that we do,” Newmark said. “For better or worse that’s the way NASCAR is structured right now, and sponsorship is the lifeblood for the teams. My hope is that at some point in time we continue to evolve to a model that moves a little bit away from that. But that was just a factor. We had a great run with Lilly Diabetes, five full seasons, we handled the Ford driver development program last year and 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.”