The search for the greatest driver in Roush Fenway Racing, according to the fans, is coming down to the wire as the Elite Eight matchups are set, with the tournament culminating on Friday.
HOW WE GOT HERE
#RoushMadness got underway more than a week ago, as all 58 drivers to have taken the wheel for Jack Roush were put into a March Madness style bracket, with seeding determined by career starts in an RFR Ford. The top six seeds, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin and two-time NASCAR Champion Greg Biffle, received first-round byes.
No. 1 Seeds Still Thriving
With the Sweet 16 in the rearview, all four No. 1 seeds – Martin, Matt Kenseth, Biffle and Carl Edwards – remain alive. Biffle took down No. 4 Jon Wood to advance, while Matt Kenseth defeated No. 5 Bubba Wallace.
No. 13 seed Kenny Wallace, who owns the closest margin of victory throughout the tournament in defeating No. 12 Ross Chastain by just 20 votes in the Round of 32, finally saw his tournament run come to an end, falling to Martin 81-19. Carl Edwards punched his ticket to the Elite 8 by defeating No. 5 Chris Buescher, 72-28.
Bevy of Support for Newman
Ryan Newman carries the largest vote total thus far through #RoushMadness, with 3,502 votes cast, 1,000 more than the next-closest opponent.
He had an interesting road to the final eight, going up against No. 10 seed Austin Cindric, former #Program60 driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Jack Roush. Newman handed Cindric the second-largest blowout of the tournament, 92-8, even getting votes from Cindric himself.
Buescher Falls to Quiet Edwards in Sweet 16
Chris Buescher handled his two opening matchups with ease, downing No. 12 Brian Ickler, 89-11, before going on to defeat Erik Darnell, 82-18. His tournament run came to an unfortunate end in the Sweet 16, where, despite his rallying of support on Twitter, he ultimately fell to Edwards.
Burton Uses Late Surge to Down Swindell
It was a hectic and nerve-wracking last few hours in the No. 2 (Jeff Burton) vs. No. 14 (Kevin Swindell) matchup in the Sweet 16, as Burton defeated Swindell by a 51-49 margin, which equates to just 58 votes. Swindell ended his tournament run with 2524 votes, second-most of any driver in the tournament.
Cup Car Numbers for Drivers Remaining
The famed No. 6 machine has the most drivers remaining of any Jack Roush owned car number, with Martin, David Ragan and Newman still on the board. Burton and Edwards represent the No. 99, Kenseth represents the No. 17, Biffle represents the No. 16, while Jamie McMurray is making the No. 26 proud.
Shock of the Tournament
No. 15 Conor Daly pulled the upset of the tournament so far, defeating the No. 2 seed, Trevor Bayne, by a margin of 55-45. Daly used a bevy of Twitter fan support to pull the upset, before going on to ultimately fall to No. 7 seed Newman, also pledging his own vote for Newman.
The Elite Eight kicks off Tuesday with a Biffle-Ragan matchup, and a Kenseth-Burton battle. It continues Wednesday with Martin-Newman and Edwards-McMurray.
Newman-Martin Matchup One of a Kind
The Elite Eight matchup between 19-year veteran Ryan Newman and Hall of Famer Mark Martin stands as the lone one to feature two drivers who were never teammates under Jack Roush, as the remaining Elite Eight matchups all feature drivers who were, at one point, teammates with each other at Roush Fenway Racing.
Biffle and Ragan were teammates from 2006-11, Burton and Kenseth shared the driving stable from 1999-2004, while McMurray and Edwards were teammates from 2006-09.
Newman Only Active Driver Remaining
The South Bend, Indiana, native also stands as the only remaining active NASCAR driver in the #RoushMadness Elite Eight, with No. 2 seed David Ragan announcing his retirement following the 2019 season.