While it wasn’t a win, Trevor Bayne got the closest he’s been to victory lane in five years Saturday when he finished third in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
But Bayne’s second top five of 2016 also got Roush Fenway Racing the closest it’s been to a win in more than a year.
The team that hasn’t won since Sonoma Raceway in June 2014 put all three of its entries – Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (fifth) and Greg Biffle (eighth) – in the top 10 for the first time in 65 races. That stretch started with the August night race at Bristol in 2014.
Daytona began with Biffle on the pole – Roush’s first since Carl Edwards had it at Texas in November 2013 – and ended with Bayne getting Roush its best result since Biffle finished second in the 2015 Coca-Cola-600.
“For our organization to be on the pole this weekend, to have three cars in the top eight, two in the top five, I think that’s kind of a landmark for us as an organization with the struggles we’ve had to get all three teams running strong on a weekend like this,” Bayne said. “It’s not a win that we need to get in the Chase, but it’s a great step in the right direction for making it in on points.”
Leaving Daytona, Bayne currently is the highest Roush driver in the points in 17th. He’s six points behind the cutoff of the 16 cars that will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Biffle, who had a pole for the first time since October 2012 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, earned his first top 10 since the September race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last year. That was after his No. 16 Ford received damage in the Lap 90 crash that involved 22 cars that required multiple pit stops to repair
“It was a rough night after we got in that wreck,” Biffle said in a news release. “We got pretty severe damage and were able to come back and finish eighth. We had a pretty fast car, and (Brad Keselowski) was unbelievably fast. We have some work to do still, but I am so proud of my guys.”
Stenhouse came home with his second top five of the year and the fifth of his career. His finished fifth at Auto Club Speedway in March.
Stenhouse had started fourth and was riding in the back when the “Big One” occurred, and he was able to brake his No. 17 Ford in time to avoid it. Stenhouse lined up eighth during the overtime restart before getting a push into the top five.
“Clint (Bowyer) was pushing me the whole last lap. I wasn’t sure that we would be able to be pushed all the way through the corners, but we were able to hold it in a straight line as best as we could,” Stenhouse said in a news release. “The Roush Fenway Racing guys worked really hard, and Jack (Roush) has put a lot of confidence in everyone to get our cars better each week.”
Next week, the series will head to the recently repaved and reconfigured Kentucky Speedway. A Roush car has not finished in the top 10 at the 1.5-mile track since Matt Kenseth finished seventh in 2012.