NASCAR: Jack Roush tight-lipped about Roush Fenway’s 2015 plans

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While rumors swirl about how Roush Fenway Racing will look next Sprint Cup season, team owner Jack Roush would not be drawn into revealing hints this morning at Michigan International Speedway.

“In due time, we’ll have announcements for 2015,” Roush said to reporters at MIS. “We’ve got a lot of 2014 in front of us and we’re obviously focused on that.”

While Trevor Bayne will return to full-time Cup racing next year in the No. 6 RFR Ford, things remain unofficial at this point with Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, who are both in contract years (although some media reports have emerged stating that Biffle will stay with the team).

But right now, the biggest concern for NASCAR’s Cat in the Hat is getting his squad turned around.

Outside of Edwards’ victory this spring at Bristol, RFR has had a disappointing campaign. Biffle and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are still chasing a regular season win that can get them into the Chase, and overall, the team has had inferior performance compared to fellow Ford stalwart Team Penske.

But Roush insists that his team is doing all it can to increase its performance.

“We’ve got a test going somewhere virtually every week, either a tire test at a NASCAR race track – a sanctioned test – or a bootlegged race track test that’s not on the NASCAR circuit, so we’re testing,” he said.

“We’re running our eight-post machine in the lab real hard and we’re taking very careful note of the ride height changes on the race track and where we seem to have our challenge and our best result returned.”

Roush doesn’t feel like the team has been having, in his words, a “fundamental error problem” as it tries to get back in the lead pack. Nonetheless, he acknowledged Penske’s success “with very similar cars” this year, and knows that they have to be better.

“This business cycles,” he said. “We’ve had times when we’ve been the cars to beat for an extended period of time to everybody’s frustration and now we’re just struggling to get back to where we need to be.”

Biffle, Edwards, and Stenhouse will start 18th, 22nd, and 30th respectively in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.