Roush Fenway Racing was the first home Greg Biffle settled on in the Cup Series. For 13 years, it’s been the only place he’s driven, collecting 19 wins, 13 poles, and a runner-up finish in points in 2005.
Whether it’s the last place he’ll drive in Cup remains to be seen.
Biffle left RFR Monday, ending his long tenure with the team after growing frustrated over performance the last few seasons. With limited sponsorship and little hope from the driver for improvement, the 46-year-old veteran felt it was time for a change.
“I just couldn’t do this anymore,” Biffle told the Florida Times-Union Monday. “I’ve been the one carrying the company banner. I’ve been the one who kept re-signing. I was all of those things. But it just didn’t get any better. I didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel, so I decided I’d rather do something else – even if it means not driving anymore.”
The veteran now enters the free agent market with a limited number of rides available. RFR, for its part is unlikely to run the No. 16 car in 2017, focusing on improving themselves as a consolidated two-car team with young talents Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
“Greg exemplifies what every owner hopes for in a driver and I’m extremely thankful for having him as part of our organization,” said owner Jack Roush in announcing the move. “I know that Greg and I will maintain a strong friendship and I look forward to leaning on him on occasion as we continue to work on improving our performance.”
The departure caps a stunning turn of events the past few years for what was once NASCAR’s powerhouse Ford team. Since 2011, Roush has lost Biffle, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan and Carl Edwards along with major sponsors like UPS, Aflac, and Ortho. They’ve seen the size of their program cut in half while Ford’s deals with Team Penske and now Stewart-Haas Racing have left them falling down the pecking order in Blue Oval country.
Still, despite the difficult times Biffle and Roush have great respect for one another. The parting, by all sides appeared amicable in the press release announced Monday.
“I’m thankful to Jack Roush for the opportunity to have driven his race cars for all these years,” said Biffle. “It’s very rare in this sport to have been able to stay with one team this many years, and to have been as successful as we have been.”
The charter for the No. 16 team, should it cease operations for 2017 would go to the highest bidder. One contender to earn that spot? A second team fielded by JTG Daugherty Racing. The Wood Brothers have left JTG’s shop, giving the team room to expand to a multi-car program ownership feels like they need to stay competitive. Rumors had been flaring the last few weeks that Biffle would be in that car and sources told Frontstretch he’d been spotted in meetings at JTG Daugherty headquarters.
But Biffle on Monday confirmed he had no future plans and was looking for a ride, making it appear like the partnership has fallen through. In his place, Chris Buescher has emerged as a candidate for that second car. The Times-Union reported Buescher would be loaned to JTG and Chevrolet for one year while Ford focuses on rebuilding his future home at RFR.
So what does that mean for Biffle? There’s a ride open at the No. 44 for Richard Petty Motorsports, although it appears to be “pay to play.” Biffle could also choose to run a year for Front Row Motorsports in Buescher’s place. Or, he could retire, leaving behind an impressive driving career that saw him win titles in both XFINITY and Trucks.
One thing we know for certain; he’s tired of running midpack.
“My passion is to drive a car that’s capable of winning,” he told the Times-Union. “I didn’t want to run 25th every week.”
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