Roush-Fenway Racing came into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season looking for a better showing than what was a disappointing 2020 campaign. With both Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher returning to the Nos. 6 and 17 cars respectively, they hoped that continuity would help RFR get back to posting solid finishes consistently. The two-car team started the 2021 campaign better than anyone could have imagined. Unfortunately, the positive aura would begin to dissipate as the calendar turned to summer.
The following article continues a FlurrySports series that looks back on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season from the perspective of drivers and race teams. Read on for season reviews of the two Roush-Fenway racing drivers, Ryan Newman and Chris Buescher.
NASCAR Cup Series 2021 Season Reviews | Roush-Fenway Racing
Ryan Newman — No. 6
After taking the brunt of a terrible wreck in the 2020 Daytona 500 that cost him a couple of months, Ryan Newman was seeking some redemption in this year’s edition of “The Great American Race”. Unfortunately, he would be wrecked out on Lap 13 after some drivers got a little too aggressive early in the race. Newman finished the 500 in 38th and struggled again the following week at the Daytona Road Course. The double-dip at Daytona foreshadowed what ultimately became a very frustrating season.
Ryan Newman Achieves Three Top-10s During Spring Portion of Schedule
Ryan Newman got back on the horse with a seventh-place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the third race of the year. He did not touch the top-10 again after that until he got his first top-5 finish of the season in the Bristol Dirt Race. Then it was back to a string of finishes that ranged from mediocre to downright bad. At Darlington Raceway, Newman earned his third top-10 of the year as he finished tenth on Monther’s Day. He fell off a cliff after that.
Summer of Poor Finishes Sees Newman Plummet in the Points
A summer filled with poor finishes dropped Ryan Newman from 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings to as low as 27th. Newman failed to score any top-10 results between Circuit of the Americas and Watkins Glen. At the Indianapolis Road Course, the No. 6 team finally cracked the top-10 for the fourth time on the season. Two races later he finished third, but it was not enough to qualify for the playoffs given his deficit in the standings.
Uncertain Future for Ryan Newman in NASCAR Cup Series
Over the final 10 races, Ryan Newman’s average finish was only 26.9. It marked an abysmal end to a very disappointing 2021 season. Newman ended the year with two top-5s, five top-10s and an overall average finish of 22.5. He placed 28th in the final points standings. Questions remain regarding his future in the NASCAR Cup Series. With Brad Keselowski taking over the No. 6 car, Newman does not have a ride set for the 2022 season as of now. given that he is now 44 years old, 2021 might have been a swan song for one of the veteran Newman.
Chris Buescher — No. 17
2021 marked the sixth year in the NASCAR Cup Series for Chris Buescher and his second driving for Roush-Fenway Racing. The 28-year-old started the season just like his teammate after wrecking out in the early laps of the Daytona 500. However, better results were ahead for Buescher and the No. 17 team.
Stage Win at Homestead Sets the Tone for Impressive Spring Run
After an 11th-place finish at the Daytona Road Course, Chris Buescher won a stage at Homestead-Miami. Unfortunately, he failed to maintain his speed over the full 400-mile race and wound up with a disappointing 19th. His first top-10 of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season came at Atlanta with a seventh-place finish. Buescher was able to point his way into the playoff picture for the time being after that race. He stayed among the top-16 in the points for a while, but more new winners ultimately bumped him below the cutline.
Summer Struggles Culminate with DQ at Daytona
A run of average finishes throughout the summer did not help Chris Buescher’s chances of reaching the NASCAR Playoffs. In the regular-season final at Daytona, he had a shot at winning his way in. The No. 17 Roush-Fenway Racing team gave it all they had but finished runner-up. They were then disqualified after the race ended. Buescher was officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Chris Buescher Runs Well During Playoff Portion of Schedule
Chris Buescher opened the playoff races with a top-10 run by finishing ninth at Darlington. Four races later, he finished sixth at Talladega and followed that up with a third-place showing at the Charlotte ROVAL. Buescher was able to add one more top-10 to his stats before the end of the year with his ninth-place showing at Martinsville. It was certainly a strong finish to the NASCAR Cup Series campaign for the No. 17 team after a disappointing summer stretch.
New Contract and Teammate Add to Optimism for Chris Buescher in 2022
In the end, Chris Buescher finished with one top-5, eight top-10s, a 17.3 average finish and a 19th-place finish in the points standings. He will be back in the No. 17 car again next year alongside a new teammate in owner/driver Brad Keselowski. Buescher will aim to capitalize on the momentum he built down the stretch of the 2021 season.