Tag:Jack Roush
Posted on: November 22, 2011 5:58 pm

Roush Fenway announces major layoffs

By Pete Pistone

Roush Fenway Racing will scale back its operation in 2012 and as a by product layoff more than 100 employees

The team plans to run three Sprint Cup Series entries next season with the No. 6 Ford, driven this year by David Ragan, being shuttered due to the lack of sponsorship.

The Nationwide Series championship team will also dial down its involvement in NASCAR's number two division from three full time rides to one car on the entire tour and another running a partial schedule.

RFR spokesman Kevin Woods did confirm layoffs will take place but did not place a number on the number of people who will lose jobs as a result of the decisions.

“We’ll have probably three Cup teams and one and one-half Nationwide teams next season,” Woods said. “Do the math. We had to right-size the organization to get to that number.

“It’s an ongoing process that’s not complete.”
While Roush has full funding for Carl Edwards' No. 99 entry as well as the No. 16 Ford driven by Greg Biffle, the organization does not have complete sponsorship sold for the No. 17 ride of Matt Kenseth.

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Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:50 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 10:22 pm

Sponsor numbers not adding up for some teams

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(The days of associating one driver with a single sponsor for the entire season appear to be long gone)

The calendar has turned to November and there are still three races left in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series season. 

But the NASCAR world never slows down and while we still await the outcome of this year’s championship, plans for next year are finally coming into focus. 

Unfortunately it’s not a very pretty picture. 

Economic woes and the lack of sponsorship dollars are shrinking the Sprint Cup Series garage area at an alarming rate. The financial crunch is so strong it’s not just impacting mid-level and small teams but the superpowers of the sport as well. 

Roush Fenway Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing will see their stables contract while an entire organization like Team Red Bull’s very existence remains in doubt. 

“We’ve gone through a transition with our sponsors, going from a time when they wanted to compete for the top car to now where the sponsors want just enough of a car to be able to do their promotions," said Jack Roush, who faces shutting down his No. 6 Cup team unless last minute sponsorship for 2012 is found to replace UPS.

"It’s a really strange time. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not sure what we’ll have coming out of it. It will be different than it’s been in the past." 

Seeking one sponsor to foot the estimated $20 million bill to keep a top flight Cup team on track is virtually impossible in today’s climate. But even splitting that cost over the course of 36 races between multiple corporate backers is also a tough task. 

The merry-go-round of sponsors that now adorn Sprint Cup cars throughout the season makes for a variety of different color schemes and logos to associate with drivers and some argue that has taken away a great deal of NASCAR’s identity. 

In the not too distant past colors and logos were indelibly attached to drivers who were immediately recognized on track by fans who made the instant connection between man and machine.

Jeff Gordon’s colorful DuPont paint scheme. Rusty Wallace and the iconic Miller Lite “Blue Deuce.” Mark Martin and the Valvoline logo. And the most famous of all Dale Earnhardt in the silver and black Goodwrench Chevrolet. 

Today you can’t tell the drivers or their cars and colors without a scorecard on a weekly basis. 

Current Chase point leader Carl Edwards rarely carries the same look two weeks in a row rotating the No. 99 through a maze of sponsors including Aflac, Scott’s, Subway and Kellogg’s. 

Next year he’ll see Fastenal and UPS join the line-up all of which is just a necessary element of today’s NASCAR sponsorship game. 

"You have to put the pieces together," RCR’s David Hart told PennLive.com. "It’s 20 races here, 10 races there and then getting someone for the last six races. You have to combo sponsorships together to run your race team. 

"This wasn’t all of a sudden and the hammer came down. You started to see it in the mid-2000s and, when the economy went down in 2008, it continued on that path. You have to look at the possibilities if you don’t have your number. You have to cobble sponsors as you can. You are looking to get as few as possible, but you want to get that number by bringing people to the table." 

Some teams like the Childress organization approach the sponsorship quest by bundling all its resources together and selling partners on a total experience rather than individual race cars. 

“We at RCR do it a little different,” Childress said. “We try to sell our whole company and corporation. The driver is a huge part of it because he plays a large role in the marketing of the product but we also try to sell RCR and make sure that we get the return on the investment for all the companies that we’re associated with. 

“At the end of the day I work for every one of these companies and I want to make sure I do a good job to get the return on their investment.”

The money squeeze is having a significant effect on next year’s landscape and forcing several well known names to the unemployment line. 

Among those Sprint Cup drivers who appear to be on the outside looking in include David Ragan, Brian Vickers and the most recent addition David Reutimann, who won’t return to Michael Waltrip Racing next year in favor of the team running a limited schedule in the No. 00 car with veteran Mark Martin. 

The story gets worse over at NASCAR’s number two and three divisions in the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. Several teams in both circuits are struggling to find the necessary funding to compete in 2012, meaning sleepless nights for the likes of Reed Sorenson, Jason Leffler, Todd Bodine and even four time truck series champion Ron Hornaday

With current team owner Kevin Harvick deciding to sell his equipment to RCR, Hornaday has two races left with KHI before he finds himself out of work. 

The news came as a bit of a shock to the veteran who says the environment in today’s NASCAR world makes it extremely difficult for even a driver of his talents to find a competitive ride. 

“You sit there and you talk to people and they all want you to bring money,” Hornaday said of many team owners. “I’ve never done that. I got a phone call from Dale (Earnhardt, Sr.) in ’94 and I started driving for him. I got the same phone call from the Dr. Pepper team with Dave Carroll, and I got the same phone call from Richard Childress then Kevin Harvick called me.

“They know I don’t have three million bucks or two-and-a-half million dollars so I don’t hear my phone ringing but I keep winning races. There are some kids out there that are bringing some money and coming in here. I hate to say it, but that’s where this sport is going. You see Cup cars out there with no name on them and everything else.” 

There could be more of that on display next season with some of the sport’s biggest names piloting cars carrying only numbers.

Because right now for many NASCAR organizations at all levels of the sport the most important numbers aren't adding up.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @ppistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 4:21 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 5:47 pm

Idle Thoughts: All Carl Edwards, All the Time

By Pete Pistone

(Advertising pitchman is just one of the many roles that lie ahead for Carl Edwards)

Now that Carl Edwards is re-signed at Roush Fenway Racing you can expect to see a whole lot of “Cousin Carl” in the near future. 

That won’t mean just on the racetrack. 

Edwards’ deal to stay with the team where he’s spent his entire NASCAR career will keep him behind the wheel of the No. 99 Sprint Cup Series entry. But now as the most prominent face of Ford Motor Company’s racing endeavors, Edwards will be involved in a whole lot more. 

Expect to see Edwards pop up in more Ford marketing and advertising initiatives including everything from television commercials to billboard campaigns. 

Like so many other successful NASCAR stars it will only be a matter of time before a Carl Edwards Ford dealer or two pops up around say his hometown of Columbia, Missouri or perhaps other important locations for the manufacturer such as in the Detroit area or scattered throughout the sport’s hub in Charlotte. 

Edwards has already shown a willingness to reach beyond the auto racing and sports arenas and try his hand at other entertainment such as guest spots on the popular television program “24” as well as the long-time CBS soap opera “The Guiding Light.” There’s good reason to believe he’ll pop up in a similar fashion on properties that Ford heavily participates in as a promotional partner. 

How about Carl as a guest mentor on “American Idol” or at the very least showing up in one of the show’s goofy music video segments that are sponsored by Ford? Or why not pair Edwards with current manufacturer spokesperson Mike Rowe on his “Dirty Jobs” program and send Carl off on an episode to clean the oil change bays at a Ford dealership? 

There’s little doubt with Edwards’ personality and ready for prime time character his newly inked relationship with Ford will find use for his raw talents as a public spokesperson. 

But it appears Edwards’ career path away from his driving responsibilities will include even more. 

Team owner Roush dropped a bit of a bombshell on the assembled media after last Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway, which saw Edwards and RFR teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finish 1-2 while crashing into one another across the start-finish line. 

When asked whether the new contract with Edwards means more Nationwide Series starts for the team in 2012 and beyond, Roush had this to say about his driver’s future in NASCAR’s number two division: 

"I think he's (Carl) made his decision," said Roush. "I think he is going to become a sportscaster for ESPN for the Nationwide Series races. I'm not sure if he is going to just do the companion races or all the races." 

Working with ESPN is something Edwards has been doing for a while, appearing as an in-race reporter in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series as well as a post-event analyst on “Sportscenter.” 

And while Edwards also has experience in the television booth, which came earlier this year when after an early engine issue knocked him out of the June Pocono race he joined TNT’s telecast, jumping into a more full-time TV role would be a huge decision. 

First it would signal the end of yet another Sprint Cup regular’s desire to compete in the complete Nationwide Series schedule, a trend that has seen both Kyle Busch and last year’s champion Brad Keselowski also dial down their participation. 

But more importantly it would bring unprecedented insight to ESPN’s television product by having a current driver in its telecast mix. 

Unlike the current stable of retired drivers and crew chiefs that dot the NASCAR television landscape, Edwards has actual experience in both the still relatively new Sprint Cup car as well as the less than year old next generation Nationwide machine. The nuances of each car and the characteristics of how they handle, what they drive like in certain conditions and other such insight is right at Edwards’ fingertips as a current competitor. 

But the decision to put Edwards in the booth also brings a set of challenges, namely in the form of potential conflict of interests. 

Edwards’s criticism of a particular team or driver not affiliated with Ford or Roush Fenway Racing may not go down easily with some fans who understand where the new broadcaster’s racing alliances lie. Conversely any praise or admiration to those associated with the Blue Oval manufacturer could be construed as being a homer or not objective. 

In the end ESPN and Edwards will have to weigh whether there’s too much downside to the potential relationship. The sport is already filled with a number of on-air personalities such as Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Darrell and Michael Waltrip who have ties to teams and manufacturers as owner or spokesman. Astute viewers are always on the lookout for any perceived favoritism by each and Edwards will no doubt also be under the spotlight. 

Then there’s the question of whether overexposure in general is an issue for Edwards. That’s a lot of Carl potentially on the horizon and as engaging a personality as he is in addition to being a natural in front of a camera or behind a microphone, there comes a time when everyone reaches an oversaturation point. 

Whether you’re a Carl Edwards fan or not expect to see a lot of him on a television or radio or billboard near you. I’m also pretty sure he’ll find time to drive a racecar as well.

 For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @ppistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 4:00 pm
Edited on: August 5, 2011 4:01 pm

Carl Edwards, Jack Roush discuss new deal

Posted by Pete Pistone

Carl Edwards and team owner Jack Roush discussed their deal to keep the current Sprint Cup Series point leader in the Roush Fenway Racing stable when they met the media Friday at Pocono Raceway:


I’m really excited.  We’re excited to go out here and try to win this championship.  I appreciate Jack and everyone at Roush Fenway Racing for giving me the time that I needed to make my decisions and to look at everything.  I can’t say how much I respect Jack and everyone at Roush Fenway and the process, contrary to what a lot of you guys thought, the process went pretty well.  We got along real well throughout it and there’s a lot of respect.  I’m just excited to move forward.  This team is in a position that we’ve never been in before. We feel that we’re fast for the right reasons and we have the opportunity to go out here and win this championship, so I’m glad it’s behind us.  I’m glad to be here racing and going for the championship.”


“First of all, I wish I would have never confirmed that our term was up because it would have been a lot quieter.  I looked at a lot of things, but, at the end of the day, our negotiations and our deals and the things that I look at competitively are private matters and I appreciate you guys respecting that.”


“At the end of the day we went through the process, worked really hard and this is the outcome that happened and I’m proud to be here.  I’d really rather not discuss the actual process.  I can say, just like I said earlier, that I learned a ton, I learned a lot through this process.  I learned a lot about Roush Fenway Racing.  It was amazing the things I learned.  I learned a lot about Jack as a person.  I learned a lot about myself and what’s important to me.  I learned a lot about my competitors, about you guys in the media, and I’m really appreciative for all those folks who were patient with me and took the time, and a lot of folks, a lot of folks in here included, I talked to them about this decision and the support that I received was huge, so I really, really appreciate that from the competitors as well.  At the end of the day, we were in a position right now where our cars are fast, we have chances to win almost every week, and the opportunity to go out and win this championship, to continue my partnership with Jack, to continue it with Ford, with the sponsors that we have, it’s an honor to be in this position, so I’m really happy with the way this turned out.”


“What I did from the beginning of this is I said, ‘What would I do if money weren’t a factor and what would I do if I didn’t care what one person thought about my decision?’  A decision that’s this important to me and my family for all the hard work that I’ve put in for the path that I’ve taken, for me personally, I act as my own agent, I make my own decisions, I understand my own deals and the decision was made under those thoughts.  So that’s what made this more simple for me and that’s how I came to the conclusion I came to. Whenever I’d start feeling that pressure start creeping in from the outside I’d think, ‘OK, let’s get back to the basics here.  Where can I win the most championships?  And what would I do if other people’s opinions weren’t a factor?’  So that helped me a ton and I think my family and Jack’s patience and Jack’s support, all of those things helped me do that.  When I talked to Jack on the phone and he said, ‘Look, Carl, you do whatever you think is best for you.’  He said those words to me and that meant the world.  It meant that I didn’t have that pressure to do something for any reason other than what I thought was best.  That was huge.” 


“I really misspoke yesterday. The arrangement between Ford and Carl is one that involves his personal services agreements and the other things.  I presumed from something that I was told that Kevin Kennedy had said that Ford had made a release and I spoke to some things that I didn’t have firsthand knowledge of that I believed to be true that may not be true, and it certainly wasn’t my responsibility or my prerogative to put it out there, so I don’t have anything further to say on that.” 


“Let me clarify that.  There was no last-minute money.  The idea that some people have run with is, first of all the money numbers that I read are not correct.  That’s all I’ll say about that.  And if anybody who wants to publish anymore of those numbers would like to come ask me if they’re correct in person, I’ll tell you they’re not correct.  And then second, the deal with Ford there was no difference in the deal at the last minute or anything. My deal with Ford is that I believe in the company.  I believe in the products that they make and just like everyone else at Ford and Roush Fenway Racing, if Ford benefits, I have the potential to benefit from that success too.  But there was no last-minute influx of money or anything like that.  That’s a false assumption.” 


“I’d like to make one follow-up comment on tha ton the money thing.  The one thing that Carl and I did not have adiscussion about at any point in the negotiation or consideration was money.  Money was not a factor from my side, from the Roush Fenway side, and from what I could see it was not a factor from Carl’s side. That did not weigh into the decision Carl made.”   


“Not really.  I think for the reasons that we talked about overall.   I just decided this is the right place for me and if I would have made that decision three months ago, I might have had more second thoughts, I might have felt not as sure about it, so, to me, the fact that I had the time that I had and I had the opportunities, and Jack being as open as he was and showing me things that were going on.  Ford, with the way they treated me through the process and showed me things that were gonna happen in the future, all of that was a risk on their part because they didn’t have to show me those things, but it took time for me to come to that conclusion.  There wasn’t one thing at the end that changed my mind or made my decision different.


“I think everybody is really excited, I think all of us are.  I know I am and Jack is and I spent a little bit of time with the guys talking with them about it today and everybody feels the same way as best as I can tell that , ‘Hey, man, that was getting kind of stressful.  I’m really glad we’re moving beyond that.’  I think everybody kind of has that same feeling, so that’s good.”


“And I don’t often agree with Jeff Gordon on very much, but the fact (Carl starts laughing) – well on some things, on the important things I agree with Jeff, but we don’t see our manufacturer affiliations the same, but, at any rate, when Jeff commented and I think he comments were directed that if Carl did make his decision to leave that it would almost certainly be a distraction to his championship efforts this year, I don’t think that anybody that’s involved in this business would not see that as not a likelihood and we’re able to put that behind us now and there was no damage done to the negotiations because he’s still leading the points and we’ve got six opportunities to win races between now and the Chase.” 


“I’m really proud of the fact that we went through all of this and we’re leading the points, we haven’t missed a beat and we’re able to keep digging.  I’m proud of that.”

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Posted on: April 14, 2011 11:19 am

Biffle contract extension near

By Pete Pistone

Greg Biffle is expected to officially announce a contract extension to stay with Roush Fenway Racing during this weekend's activities at Talladega Superspeedway.

Several sources have reported Biffle has inked a new deal to remain with team owner Jack Roush. 

Biffle hinted last month that he was on track to continue his Cup career with RFR, where he has competed since 2003. Prior to moving up to NASCAR's top level, Biffle won championships in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series with Roush.

Terms of the deal are not known but speculation has the extension keeping Biffle in the stable through the 2014 season.

Once Biffle is inked, Roush has the task of negotiating a new contract for Carl Edwards. His deal also expires at the end of 2011 and like Biffle, Edwards has publicly stated he'd like to remain in the Roush camp although rumors of Team Ted Bull, which has an open seat when Kasey Kahne leaves for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012, may make an offer.

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