Roush-Fenway Racing is ready to show that the continuity in the organization from last season will pay off in 2014. With losing Matt Kenseth and gaining Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came big change for RFR, but now that they have a fully-adjusted year down, they are set to get back to their winning ways. Both Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards can put together title-contending seasons, as they have done in the past. 2013 didn’t include an RFR entry contending closely for the title like in years past, but 2014 opens the opportunity for it to happen again. With the new emphasis on winning, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. could also easily win and compete as well; putting success in the air at RFR for 2014.
Biffle broke his career pattern last season which he had been in for years. He would often compete one year and struggle the next. The pattern dismantled by Biffle backing up a successful 2012 with a strong 2013. With consecutive consistent season’s, 2014 will be a year to win for Biffle. To compete, he will need to win so making that a team goal will bring the No.16 team to the greatness they are capable of achieving.
My Prediction: Biffle will struggle more than usual in 2014. It will be very difficult for a win to come his way, making the Chase very unlikely. However, he may steal a win at one of his better tracks and earn a Chase spot only to be eliminated in an early round.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
With the tough rookie season under his belt, Stenhouse Jr. should have optimism for 2014. He now has traveled the grueling circuit once, so going back a second time won’t bring as much newness. That will allow for Stenhouse Jr. to settle into a groove where he will be able to compete at a higher level. He only can improve from last season, so seeing him closer to the front on a more consistent basis wouldn’t be a total surprise. Also with Mike Kelley heading back on top of the pit box, Stenhouse Jr. could rekindle past Nationwide Series good fortune.
My Prediction: A much better season is ahead for Stenhouse Jr. He will earn many more top 10’s and a few top 5’s. I believe he does get to victory lane once and will be in the Chase. If he has luck on his side in the Chase, then maybe he potentially competes, but that isn’t likely.
A rather good regular season in 2013 was followed by a difficult Chase for Edward in which he was up and down and could not settle into a steady rhythm. Along with every other team, the No.99 team will focus on putting their car into a winning position this season. Edwards hasn’t been known to win multiple times a year, so he and his team may need to take more risks in order to earn a few more victories. Trying something different this season could pay off for Edwards. If they want a shot at the title again, adding to what they already do could put them in contention.
My Prediction: One or two wins will come for Edwards as he will make the Chase. He won’t survive for the entire ten races, but he will make it pretty far. Expect a better Carl Edwards to emerge this season.
RFR is one of the best teams in the garage at being a surprise contender each season. It is difficult to gauge whether or not they will start off hot, but they usually find a way to get there. With having three drivers capable of making the Chase, the team has confidence going into 2014. Once Daytona rolls around, backing up their confidence with strong runs will be key. RFR has great potential this season and that potential could take them far.
By Jason Schultz
Follow him on twitter @NASCARJason