During the Roush Fenway Racing portion of last week's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour, the five Roush drivers were sitting on stage alongside their boss, Jack Roush. Behind them on a screen was a one word slogan spelled out in big block letters.
"I'm as enthusiastic and as driven as I've ever been to take our absolute best effort to the race track every race," Roush said last Thursday.
A fitting mantra for the Roush camp in 2013 - not only as the organization attempts to maintain its place among the NASCAR elite, but also for each of the five drivers the team employs:
- After falling from title contender to also-ran status, Carl Edwards is determined to atone for what was the most disappointing season of his career.
- Now the veteran of the team, Greg Biffle needs to prove that he can be the leader Roush needs after the departure of Matt Kenseth.
- The man filling the seat once occupied by Kenseth is Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who in his rookie season needs to establish that he is a capable replacement.
- For the first time in his career, Trevor Bayne enters a season knowing he will run a full schedule of races. He, however, is facing the burden of showing that he can seize the opportunity before him.
- And there is Travis Pastrana, who is out to show that he can make the transition from action sports star to legitimate NASCAR driver.
Combined, that's a lot for one team to have to deal with heading into a season. However, the uncertainty doesn't seem to have unnerved the organization, as they have taken the necessary steps to erase questions that there may be.
To combat the challenge of developing and tweaking NASCAR's new Gen 6 car, Roush has increased its workforce by 10 percent since the end of last season. Roush has also bestowed his trusty lieutenant Robbie Reiser with more responsibilities to ensure that the team reaches its full potential.
Roush's best move this offseason may have been moving crew chief Jimmy Fennig over to Edwards' No. 99 team, where the veteran will is charged with leading Edwards back into contention.
On paper it seems like a perfect fit, as Fennig is an old school crew chief who has had success with numerous drivers throughout his career, and his taskmaster ways may be exactly what Edwards needs to return to the winner's circle.
"We're in this to win," Edwards said. "That's one thing Jimmy Fennig talked about this year - he made it very clear when we talked about doing this. He said ‘I am here to win and that's it. That's the only reason I'm doing this.'"
The veteran of the team, Biffle should have no problem assuming a leadership position, as he has been with the organization since 1998. It also doesn't hurt that he is coming off a season where he won two races and led the standings for 16 weeks.
Although there will inevitably be bumps in the road for any rookie driver, Stenhouse has proven that he not only has the talent, but the moxie to overcome any hurdles that he will encounter. And it would surprise no one if by the end of the year he is contending for wins on a semi-regular basis.
As for Bayne, he has already proven that he can run and beat the sport's best. The only thing he was missing was a team behind him to fully showcase his talent, and he now has that in spades.
His drive this year is all about showing that he is worthy of a Cup ride - something Roush is already looking into providing, assuming Bayne delivers as expected this season.
"The opportunity I have this year is the one I've been waiting on" Bayne said. "Everybody knows that last season I was part-time and it was kind of a silly season for us. Now, we get the real opportunity to run for a championship."
The wildcard in the bunch is Pastrana. However, the daredevil is focused and unswerving in his desire to be a successful NASCAR driver.
And his carefree attitude injects some much needed life into an organization which for too long as had the reputation of being too buttoned up. This was evident by his attire Thursday during the Roush press conference, as every driver on the stage was wearing a black suit, while Pastrana was rockin' a plaid sports jacket.
"He is motivated, he's driven, he's ambitious and he's talented and that fits in very well," Roush said.
There's that word again - driven. Now all that remains to be seen is whether the team can use that drive to propel itself to its first Cup championship since 2004.