NASCAR: Roush Fenway brings on Ortho to back Greg Biffle, No. 16 car

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Home, lawn, and garden pest control brand Ortho will become an “anchor partner” of Greg Biffle and the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion in 2015.

The partnership marks a return to RFR for Ortho’s parent group, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, which backed the team from 2005 to 2011.

Ortho will make its debut on the No. 16 car next weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and will appear in two more 2014 Sprint Cup events before beginning its 2015 duties with RFR.

In a press conference today at Bristol Motor Speedway, RFR president Steve Newmark did not give an exact number of 2015 races that Ortho would have on the No. 16, but said that the total would be around “roughly half” of next year’s Cup schedule.

Biffle’s current sponsor, 3M, recently announced a move to Hendrick Motorsports, where they will serve as a primary sponsor over the next three seasons for Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 car.

But today at Bristol, Biffle said that he’s excited to get a fresh start with Ortho. He also noted that he was already using their products himself, which apparently come in handy when it’s time to pull into the track for the weekend.

“It’s funny – I keep the product on my bus, because when we park in the motorhome lots, you can’t just choose your spots,” he noted with amusement. “So, sometimes, you park there and ‘By the way, right outside your front door is a fire ant pile.'”

But fire ants are the least of Biffle’s worries this weekend at Bristol.

With three regular season races left, Biffle has moved into the 16th and final position on the Chase Grid. But he remains winless and only has a nine-point advantage on 17th-place Kasey Kahne.

So what will he and the No. 16 team’s strategy be this weekend? Defending that final Chase Grid spot with a good points day or attacking in hopes of a victory that can put them into the post-season?

“You take chances, make passes, do all the things you can do,” Biffle said. “But at the same time, we know we’re on the bubble in points. I feel it’s going to take a win still to get in this thing, and that’s what we’re going for.”

Biffle has never won at Bristol in his Sprint Cup career (best finish of third in 2005). He finished 12th there this past spring in a race that RFR teammate Carl Edwards won.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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