Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Cat In The Hat Needs To Catch A New Mouse

The contracts for both Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards with Roush-Fenway Racing (RFR) are set to expire at the end of this season.  Both drivers have acknowledged that preliminary discussions regarding possible extensions have begun, although it is not known (nor should it be) whether one or both drivers are most likely to re-sign with RFR or if they will drive elsewhere beginning in 2015.

Run, drivers.  Don't walk.  Get out of there.  Both of you.

Here's why:

Jack Roush, in my opinion, has a lousy track record of rewarding or reciprocating loyalty when it comes to his employees.  He also tends to exert too much control over what they can see, say or do, which has led to RFR's mediocre on-track performance in 2014.  

Go back to Mark Martin.  By all accounts, an excellent driver and loyal employee for many years.  Let's be honest - he put an awful lot of money in Jack's pocket over the years.  Mark's accomplishments are many.  But, when it came time to slow down and Mark expressed his desire to run only a part-time schedule, one sure would have thought Jack would have found a way to make it happen.  He didn't, so Mark went elsewhere.

The last time Carl's contract was up, RFR put on the full-court press to retain him when many in the garage area already had him leaving and going to Joe Gibbs' Racing.  It has been said that Ford was the catalyst in this deal, bringing additional and significant resources to the table to make it happen.  Two problems - first, why didn't RFR get this done on their own if Carl was that important to them and two, did RFR not realize how such a focus on one driver might sit with others.  Did anyone check with Matt Kenseth?

Matt Kenseth was also a loyal RFR driver for many years, but to punctuate the animosity he must have felt with Carl's last contract negotiation, he too left RFR after the 2012 season and has enjoyed success elsewhere.

So he's lost (either by design or his own hubris,) two of the Cup Series' top-name drivers in Martin and Kenseth in recent years.  Both drivers deserved better from him and RFR President Steve Newmark because of what those drivers have given to the organization during their careers.

Mr. Roush's arrogance and need to be in control is highlighted in a drop-in currently being aired on Sirius NASCAR Radio during re-joins to their programming.  Jack exclaims that "drivers aren't always aware of what the team is doing to optimize their deal."  This too is a serious problem -- why does he feel and require that his drivers are kept in the dark over such strategies and engineering accomplishments?  The fact that he seems to pride himself on his drivers not knowing everything that's going on is troubling - very troubling.

With Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and now Trevor Bayne under contract for full-time Cup Series' rides for 2015 and beyond, it's clear that younger is the future at RFR.  That's fine - but it is also indicative of the fact that it's time for Carl and Greg to leave and showcase their skills elsewhere.

So run, drivers.  You've done plenty for Jack.  What has he done for you?

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