FORT WORTH – Greg Biffle won’t deny it. Roush Fenway Racing needs speed, and the team needs it now.
Through the season’s first six races, Roush’s three Ford drivers Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne totaled one top-10 finish and only two laps led.
The organization is pinning its hopes on a wave of redesigned cars that were put through the wringer in preparation for a debut in Saturday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We’ve been working really hard on these news cars, trying to get our stuff better and better,” Biffle said Thursday night during a Q & A with fans in the TMS infield. “These cars have been in the works for about five months. You know, it’s not revolutionary, I’m sure. But we’ve made some changes that are an improvement over what we’ve had. We feel like it’s going to be better.”
With an off week for Easter, Roush took extra care to ensure its Fusions were ready after the revamp.
“We were able to do some wind tunnel comparisons with other stuff in other cars, and we did see a little bit of deficiency, even with out brand new car,” Biffle said. “We were getting ready to come to Texas, and we took it back to the shop, changed some more stuff on it, (then) went back to the wind tunnel because we had the week off. We think we found a little bit more speed, still within the rules, that’s the biggest thing. How to get these things shaped to where they’ll go through inspection and still be able to make it out of there and go out on the racetrack.”
Roush Fenway Racing is seeking its 10th victory at Texas, but it’s been three years since its last victory on the 1.5-mile oval with Biffle. The team won five of the first 10 races at Texas, including the track’s April 1997 inaugural event that also marked NBC analyst Jeff Burton’s first career victory in Cup.
But Roush has been on a downward slide over the past three seasons while losing veterans Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth to Joe Gibbs Racing.
Biffle is the longest-tenured Roush driver, joining the organization in 1998 and then moving to Cup in 2003 after championships in the Xfinity and truck series. He is the only current Roush driver to have won in Sprint Cup, having earned 19 victories on the circuit (the most recent at Michigan International Speedway in 2012 and ’13).
In his third Cup season with Roush, Stenhouse has posted two top-five and eight top-10 finishes and an average finish of 22.7 in NASCAR’s premier series. The two-time Xfinity champion in 2011-12 also failed to qualify for last October’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 and has raced part time in Cup over the past four seasons, hasn’t finished higher than 18th in his first full Cup season at Roush.
But Biffle is no stranger to the cowboy hat and six-shooters that Texas winners receive, having won here in 2005 and ’12.
“We’re working overtime, working really hard,” Biffle said. “It’s certainly not from a lack of effort, not having the speed we want. We hope that the new car and the update on the body that we just did is going to have speed tomorrow.”