Roush Fenway announces developmental driver team for 2018

Russell LaBounty/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Roush Fenway Racing’s (RFR) No. 60 Ford is returning to full-time competition in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with the help of three promising prospects.

The organization announced Monday that it will field a full-time developmental driver entry in NASCAR’s second series in 2018, splitting the ride between prospects Ty Majeski, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe.

Veteran crew chief Mike Kelley, who led Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to two XFINITY Series titles in 2011 and ’12, will handle the same duties for the new operation.

“Driver development has always been part of our DNA at Roush Fenway and Jack Roush has always taken pride in providing opportunities for up and coming drivers,” Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark said in a release. “All three of these drivers have exhibited a great deal of potential on and off the track and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch as they hone their skills together and grow into the next generation of champions in our sport.”

The announcement comes in a collaboration between RFR, Team Penske and Ford Performance. Briscoe and Cindric each drove for the now-defunct Penske affiliate Brad Keselowski Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2017.

Cindric started the season slow, but rose up over the summer and fall months to seize a berth in the Championship 4. The rookie ended the year third in the Truck Series standings, with eight top fives, 16 top 10s and a win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.

The Ohioan made his XFINITY Series debut at Road America in August, claiming the pole before finishing 16th. Cindric also has extensive experience in other forms of motorsport, including Red Bull Global Rallycross, where he made his Supercar debut at Seattle in September.

Briscoe, 22, is a dirt-track graduate who made a seamless transition to asphalt with an ARCA Racing Series championship run in 2016. His early success caught the eye of Ford and BKR, leading to an opportunity to step up to the Truck Series in 2017.

The Mitchell, Indiana native ultimately put together a strong season, joining teammate Cindric in the playoffs and ending the year with his first-career win at Homestead-Miami Speedway before finishing sixth in the standings and earning Rookie of the Year honors.

While Briscoe comes from a dirt background, Majeski is an prospect known for his prowess in asphalt Late Model racing. A member of the 2017 NASCAR Next class, the 22-year-old Majeski earned his fourth-consecutive ARCA Midwest Tour championship and hounded the country with 20 victories in just 32 starts, including a third victory in New Smyrna Speedway’s Governor’s Cup.

The Wisconsinite made his XFINITY Series debut for RFR in 2017, running in both of the tour’s stops at Iowa Speedway and scoring a third start to end the year at Homestead. It was in that final start where he tallied his best result to date – a 10th-place run.

RFR intends to compete for an owner’s championship with the developmental team, completing all races on the 2018 schedule. Additional details for the operation are expected to be announced after the Thanksgiving holiday.

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