Greg Biffle

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 26:  Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 Roush Performance Ford, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 26, 2016 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Greg Biffle joins NASCAR America as an analyst

Leave a comment

Greg Biffle announced Friday on Twitter that he’s decided “not to participate full time in NASCAR this season” but remained open to racing.

Biffle also tweeted that he will serve as a reoccurring guest analyst on NASCAR America on NBCSN. His first scheduled appearance on the NASCAR show will be March 1.

In a series of tweets, Biffle stated “if the right opportunity arises, I may return to the driver’s seat.”

Biffle and Roush Fenway Racing parted ways after last season, ending a union that saw the driver win titles in what is now the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series and score 19 Cup victories.

Biffle finished a career-high second in the points in 2005. He placed third in the points in 2008 and fifth in the points in 2012. His 19 career victories put him 41st on the all-time wins list, tied with Davey Allison, Buddy Baker and Fonty Flock.

Biffle joins an analyst crew for NASCAR America that includes Dale Jarrett, Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte, Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman.

 and on Facebook

Entry list and what you need to know about Saturday’s NASCAR Clash

Leave a comment

After a long winter and off-season, NASCAR racing gets heated up in Saturday’s 39th annual Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The green flag for the 17 drivers entered in the non-points race will drop just after 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. The race will be broadcast on TV on Fox Sports 1 and on radio on both the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The defending winner of the Clash – as well as last year’s Daytona 500 – is Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.

The race will cover 75 laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway for a total of 187.5 miles. There will be two segments: the first will be 25 laps, followed by a competition caution, and then will resume with a 50-lap final segment.

Drivers in the field qualified for the race via several ways: Pole-sitters from last year’s 36 Cup races, former Clash winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2016 and all drivers who qualified for the 2016 playoffs.

Four drivers that were eligible for the Clash will not be in the field: Greg Biffle (does not have a ride for 2017), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (will be replaced by Alex Bowman), Carl Edwards (not racing in 2017, will be replaced by Daniel Suarez) and the retired Tony Stewart.

The starting grid will be determined by a draw, most likely by crew chiefs, as has been the case in recent years of the Clash.

Click here for the entry list of the 17 drivers in the Clash.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. now the ‘old guy’ as Roush Fenway undergoes ‘culture shift’

SPARTA, KY - JULY 10:  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., left, driver of the #17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, and Trevor Bayne, driver of the #6 AdvoCare Ford, talk in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on July 10, 2015 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. “never really thought it would happen.” Entering his ninth season in NASCAR, he’s now the “old guy” at Roush Fenway Racing.

“I’ve been at Roush Fenway the longest now,” Stenhouse said last week at the NASCAR Media Tour, three months after he turned 29. “I signed with Roush in 2007, so it’s been a while. It’s been a journey that I’ve enjoyed. It’s a new chapter for me now to kind of take the reins and make sure we lay the buggy in the right direction.”

Stenhouse is the lead driver after the previous “old guy,” Greg Biffle, amicably parted ways with the team the day after last year’s Cup Series finale. Biffle, 47, left after driving for Roush since 1998, when Stenhouse was 11 and teammate Trevor Bayne was 7.

Now Roush will only field Stenhouse and Bayne, making its Cup Series operation a two-car effort for the first time since 1995.

“I feel good about that and Trevor, along with me, we’re gonna have to make sure that when we come back from the weekend we let them know what direction we need to go to make our cars better and better every week,” said Stenhouse, who has yet to win in four full-time Cup seasons with Roush. “I think we started last season fairly strong and we fell off. That was something that we weren’t able to maintain and that’s something we’ve got down in our notes.”

Stenhouse earned a career-best four top fives last season before finishing 21st in the standings.

Bayne, entering his third season with Roush, said the car reduction and personnel changes in the offseason is a small part of a “culture shift” within the walls of the team that hasn’t won a race or made the playoffs the last two seasons.

“I feel like we did not keep up the way that we wanted to (last year),” Bayne said. “So what we have to learn is … ‘How do you stay motivated and make the gains from Michigan to Homestead that you make in the off-season, that you show up to Atlanta and Daytona with?’ That’s what we have to do as a team. We have to stay motivated.

“I think the guys are motivated, but we have to continue to communicate better. You’ve heard this a lot at Roush Fenway Racing in particular is a culture shift and a communication shift. I think that’s taking place. You don’t have a culture shift by replacing one or two people or by hiring new personnel. The culture shift has to be ingrained into every single person in the organization, and I think we’re getting closer and closer to being to that point where everybody believes that we can do it at Roush Fenway Racing.”

Another part of the culture shift – or culture maturation – is Bayne and Stenhouse putting aside any teammate rivalry, which was highlighted by Roush’s social media team anytime the drivers would be near each other on the track

“I think Ricky and I have kind of realized in the last couple of years of being teammates at the Cup level that it’s not Ricky versus Trevor anymore,” Bayne said. “It’s Roush Fenway Racing versus everybody else.”

Two years removed from its last Cup win, Roush Fenway will begin finding out if its “culture shift” will stick with the Feb. 26 Daytona 500.

 and on Facebook

Ford executive encouraged by changes at Roush Fenway Racing

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 12: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Roush Performance Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 12, 2016 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

CONCORD, N.C. — The Global Director of Ford Performance says he’s optimistic Roush Fenway Racing will be more competitive this season because of leadership changes that “embrace becoming more of an engineering-led organization.’’

Roush Fenway Racing has been shut out of NASCAR’s playoffs each of the past two seasons and last won a race in 2014.

Ford’s Dave Pericak said Wednesday at the Ford Performance Technical Center that Roush Fenway Racing is in a better position to take advantage of Ford’s technical support after offseason changes.

“I think Roush has made all of the right, now, decisions and changes within their organization to truly embrace becoming more of an engineering-led organization and putting the technology into these cars as opposed to just bolting some stuff together and going out on the racetrack,’’ Pericak told NBC Sports.

“I think there has been a huge acknowledgement on their side that there has to be a shift within their own organization, a shift within their leadership. We’ve helped them on a technical side of things to get their equipment up to speed. I’m optimistic that this year you’re going to see all of that coming together and you should see better performance out of that Roush organization.’’

Roush Fenway Racing opens the season with new personnel in executive levels. The team announced in late November that Kevin Kidd, who had been the organization’s Cup team manager, would become the competition director, and Tommy Wheeler, who oversaw the production of the organization’s Cup and Xfinity cars, would be the team’s operations director. The team also announced that Robbie Reiser, who had been general manager, was being reassigned.

The organization also is smaller this season. Roush downsized to a two-car operation with the departure of Greg Biffle. The team will have Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne as drivers and loaned Chris Buescher to JTG Daugherty, a Chevrolet team, because there wasn’t a proper place to put him with a Ford team this year.

Stenhouse showed signs of progress early last season, climbing to 13th the points after the season’s fifth race before finishing the year 21st. Bayne placed 22nd and Biffle 23rd. The three drivers combined for zero wins, seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes.

The top-five and top-10 results were an increase from the 2015 season. Roush’s drivers combined for four top fives and nine top 10s that season.

Roush is one of two Ford teams downsizing this year. Richard Petty Motorsports will field one entry this year instead of two. Pericak said such moves could help both teams.

“The downsizing that you’ve seen is a way for us to re-focus those teams and get back to the fundamentals and get them back on the right path,” Pericak said. “You don’t want to have so much going on that you can’t focus in areas that you need to focus and fix what you need.’’

Something else that could help Roush and RPM is the addition of Stewart-Haas Racing to the Ford camp. The move gives Ford two top-tier teams in SHR and Team Penske. Some of the information gleaned by those teams can be shared.

“I think when you look at that, it’s a very positive thing to bring that level of competition to your group, everyone is going to benefit from that,’’ Pericak said. “And the other thing we’ve been working strongly on is that one Ford approach, sharing where sharing makes sense.’’

 and on Facebook

Clash at Daytona has new name

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 13:  Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 SKF Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway on February 13, 2016 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The season-opening exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway will be known as the Advance Auto Parts Clash with the auto parts company sponsoring the 75-lap event that begins the season.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is set for Feb. 18 on Fox Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

The race will be divided into two segments with a competition caution at lap 25.

Only drivers who were 2016 pole winners, former event winners, former Daytona 500 winners who competed full-time in 2016 and drivers who qualified for the 2016 playoffs are eligible.

Drivers eligible for the event are:

Greg Biffle

Alex Bowman

Chris Buescher

Kurt Busch

Kyle Busch

Austin Dillon

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Chase Elliott

Denny Hamlin

Kevin Harvick

Jimmie Johnson

Matt Kenseth

Brad Keselowski

Kyle Larson

Joey Logano

Jamie McMurray

Danica Patrick

Martin Truex Jr.

Carl Edwards

Tony Stewart

  • Edwards and Stewart will not compete in the event