Roush cutting back
Sprint Cup rides reduced to three
Roush Fenway Racing, the NASCAR team Red Sox owner John Henry became an equal partner of in 2007 with car owner Jack Roush, will scale back its Sprint Cup operation from four teams to three and reduce its commitment in the Nationwide Series from three full-time rides to 1 1/2 programs, according to team spokesman Kevin Woods.
The team will shutter the Sprint Cup operation of its No. 6 car driven by David Ragan, who lost his funding when UPS pulled out as his primary sponsor.
“Everything is sponsor-driven,’’ Woods said. “Our goal is to put as many competitive teams on the track as possible, not necessarily the most teams. It’s about being able to field the most competitive teams and, obviously, that takes a level of [sponsor] partnership.’’
Although Henry was listed as the owner of record for Ragan’s car and the No. 17 driven by Matt Kenseth, the cost-cutting measure, which is expected to result in the layoff of as many as 100 employees, is not expected to diminish Henry’s stake in Roush Fenway Racing.
“Absolutely not, not at all,’’ Woods said. “John Henry and [Fenway Sports Group] still own half the race team. There’s no underlying deal there with our relationship.’’
While Roush Fenway has full funding for the No. 99 Cup entry driven by Carl Edwards, runner-up to Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart, and for Greg Biffle’s No. 16 car, Kenseth has yet to secure full funding for the 2012 season.
“There’s nothing really new on that front, but it’s obviously a huge priority,’’ Woods said. “There’s a high level of focus on that right now.’’
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. delivered Roush Fenway this year’s Nationwide Series Championship and is likely to return in the team’s full-time Nationwide program next season.
But it is not certain whether Trevor Bayne, the reigning Daytona 500 winner, will return behind the wheel of Roush’s other part-time Nationwide entry.
“It’s not finalized,’’ Woods said. “There’s obviously scenarios where you could do programs with different drivers and mix and match.
“Or it could be a situation where you have a person run about half a year. It’s all in the process of being sorted out.
“And that’s the baseline; they’re still talking to other people and there’s a chance it could be a little more than [a part-time program], so we’ll have to find out.
“At the end of the day, what we’ve had to do, organizationally, is to kind of ‘right-size’ the staff and to suit the needs of that.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.