A few months ago I wrote a post lauding Roush’s developmental commitment even through sponsorship adversity. I said Roush’s commitment to Colin Braun and to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was evident in its continued support of two underfunded teams. And I applauded the man (Jack Roush) and the team (Roush Fenway) for giving chances to those who couldn’t necessarily fund their own rides.
About a month later though Roush booted Colin Braun from the ride full-time in favor of a split schedule with other drivers. This wasn’t good for my argument – that is that Roush was a bastion for the development driver. As the picture became clear and the weeks have progressed though, Jack Roush has, in my mind (for what that’s worth), continued to demonstrate the importance of young and developmental drivers to his organization.
Roush, for his part, gave Colin Braun two full seasons in the Truck Series and some random Nationwide starts. Despite being one of the best funded teams led by a very good crew chief (Mike Beam) Braun was only able to score one win and finish 13th and fifth in the points in his two Truck campaigns. This season Braun wrecked (or was involved in wrecks) in five of nine races he competed in. Jack Roush, rightfully so, had seen enough.
While Braun’s days with the team appear to be numbered, he was given a reprieve by his sponsor Conway Freight, despite its discontent with the situation.
Where one driver appears to have run his course though, another has gotten an opportunity. Roush Fenway signed Brian Ickler to run at Charlotte – and from what we’re hearing beyond. The young driver has been able to put together limited deals throughout his career and is getting his opportunity to excel in top-notch equipment.
With Braun in just 14 more races this season that leaves plenty of opportunities for Ickler to get seat time. And we’re hearing in addition to this weekend’s race at Charlotte, Ickler will also run at Daytona and Kentucky in the coming weeks.
Adding Ickler to a stable that includes Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and young Chris Buescher (check out TC’s post from yesterday) further adds to a portfolio of great potential talent. While certainly driver development isn’t an exact science (Roush has proven that), committing to building the stars of tomorrow continues to be a priority for this organization – and for that I continue to commend them.