A significant milestone is in the making for one of NASCAR’s and Roush Fenway Racing’s iconic numbers this week at Kansas Speedway. When the green flag waves for the upcoming NASCAR Cup Series race, the Super Start Batteries 400, at Kansas, the No. 6 will reach 1,000 starts under the Roush Fenway Racing banner in NASCAR’s premier series.
The No. 6 car was the first car that team owner Jack Roush fielded in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1988, the year Roush Racing was founded and made its debut in the 1988 Daytona 500 with Batesville, Arkansas, native Mark Martin serving as the team’s first driver led by crew chief Robin Pemberton. In the team’s first full-time season in the Cup circuit, Martin recorded a pole at Dover in September along with three top-five results and 10 top-10 results before concluding the season in 15th in the standings.
The following season, Martin and Roush’s No. 6 Ford team rebounded by starting on the pole six times along with finishing in the top five 14 times and in the top 10 18 times. In October, Martin recorded the first Cup victory for himself and for Roush at Rockingham’s North Carolina Speedway. Ultimately, he concluded the season in third in the final standings.
Starting the 1990 season fresh with new sponsor Folgers, Martin won three races, three poles and finished in the top 10 in all but six of the 29-race schedule. Though he led the points standings for the majority of the season, he was penalized 46 points following the second race of the season, which he won, due to a rules violation. The penalty cost Martin and Roush the overall championship by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt.
From 1991 to 2000, Martin and Roush’s No. 6 team won 28 Cup races. He also achieved 27 poles, 148 top-five results, 214 top-10 results and over 8,000 laps led. His best points results during the ten years were a pair of runner-up results in 1994 and 1998, though he finished no lower than eighth during those years. By then, Valvoline was his primary sponsor. From 2001 to 2004, Martin only won two races. He also achieved two poles, 30 top-five results, 62 top-10 results and over 1,100 laps led. His best points results during the four years were a runner-up result in 2002 and a fourth-place result in 2004. By then, Viagra was his primary sponsor and Roush’s No. 6 car had surpassed 500 starts in the Cup level. In addition, owner Jack Roush notched his first two NASCAR Cup championships with Matt Kenseth in 2003 and Kurt Busch in 2004.
The 2005 season started as Martin’s final full-time season of Cup racing while launching the “Salute to You” tour to thank his fans. Throughout the season, Martin won once at Kansas in October as he also achieved 12 top-five results, 19 top-10 results and led 324 laps before concluding the season in fourth in the final standings after making the Chase. One of Martin’s highlights during the season was winning the All-Star Race at Charlotte’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May while sporting a retro 1993 Valvoline scheme to his No. 6 car. Following the departure of Kurt Busch and Roush needing a driver for the No. 6 car in 2006, Martin agreed to return for another full-time season of racing. In 2006, while sporting the AAA logos on the car, Martin did not record a win, but he made his third consecutive Chase appearance while logging in seven top-five results and 15 top-10 results before concluding the season in ninth in the final standings.
Following Martin’s departure to Ginn Racing, Roush hired Unadilla, Georgia’s David Ragan as driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford led by veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig. By then, Roush Racing became Roush Fenway Racing when John W. Henry, owner of the Fenway Sports Group, purchased half of the team’s stake with Jack Roush still overseeing daily operations of the organization. Ragan kicked off his rookie Cup season by finishing fifth in the Daytona 500 after dodging a last-lap accident. Throughout the season, however, Ragan struggled with consistency. He recorded two more top-10 results throughout the season before settling in 23rd in the final standings and falling short of the Rookie-of-the-Year title to Juan Pablo Montoya. Ragan rebounded the following season by recording six top-five results and 14 top-10 results before concluding the season in 13th in the final standings, the highest of the non-Chase contenders.
Between 2009 and 2010, while sporting the UPS colors on the No. 6 Ford, Ragan struggled with consistency as he logged five top-10 results between the two seasons with a best points result of 24th in 2010. In 2011, with the No. 6 UPS team led by Drew Blickensderfer, Ragan started the season by nearly winning the Daytona 500 until he was penalized for switching lanes prior to reaching the start/finish line and ultimately, finishing 14th. For the first 16 races of the season, Ragan recorded four top-10 results and his first career pole at Texas in April. He also won the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte in May to transfer to his first All-Star Race, where he finished eighth. In July, Ragan survived a wild night of carnage to score his first Cup career win at Daytona International Speedway. The victory marked the first time since 2005 where Roush’s No. 6 car won a race in NASCAR’s premier series. For the remainder of the season, Ragan recorded another pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and three more top-10 results before finishing 23rd in the final standings.
Following the 2011 season and Ragan’s departure from Roush Fenway Racing, the No. 6 car only made four starts throughout the 2012 Cup season with the reigning Xfinity Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Stenhouse made his first start in the No. 6 Ford at the Daytona 500 in February, where he rallied from being involved in a late accident to finish 20th. He went on to finish 12th at Dover in September, 35th at Charlotte in October and 39th at Homestead in November. Stenhouse also competed the entire Xfinity race schedule in Roush’s No. 6 Ford Mustang, which he won and defended his series title. In 2013, Stenhouse graduated to the Cup Series on a full-time basis, replacing Matt Kenseth as driver of the No. 17 Ford while the No. 6 car was not fielded for the first time throughout a racing season since the team’s inception.
Following a two-year hiatus, the No. 6 car made its return to the track for the 2015 Cup season with the 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne set to pilot the car with sponsorship support from AdvoCare and the team led by veteran Bob Osborne. Throughout the 2015 season, however, Bayne struggled with consistency as he finished in the top 10 twice and concluded the season in 29th in the final standings. The following season, paired with crew chief Matt Puccia, Bayne recorded two top-five results and five top-10 results while leading a career-high 34 laps and winning a stage in the All-Star Open at Charlotte in May to transfer to the All-Star Race, where he finished seventh. Ultimately, he concluded the season in 22nd in the final standings. In 2017, Bayne finished 22nd in the final standings again while recording two top-five results and six top-10 results. The closest he came to winning a race in Roush’s No. 6 car was the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in July, where he had a potential late-race winning strategy spoiled by a late caution that later led to him being involved in a multi-car wreck.
Throughout the 2018 season, the No. 6 car was split between Bayne and Matt Kenseth, who reunited with Roush Fenway Racing in an effort to help strengthen the performance of the team following recent on-track struggles. For Bayne, who competed in 21 Cup races, his best result was an 11th-place finish at Bristol in August while finishing 12th at Texas in April and 13th on three occasions. For Kenseth, who made his first start at Kansas in May, he recorded a pair of top-10 finishes in the final two races of the season and he picked up a stage win at Indianapolis in September.
For the 2019 season, Roush Fenway Racing shifted gears and welcomed the 2008 Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman to pilot the No. 6 Ford Mustang led by crew chief Scott Graves. Throughout the season, Newman recorded three top-five results, 14 top-10 results and 57 stage points as he made the Playoffs before he concluded the season in 15th in the final standings.
This season, Newman and Roush’s No. 6 team appeared to start the season off by winning the 62nd running of the Daytona 500 until the veteran was involved in a harrowing accident on the final straightaway, an accident that left Newman injured and out of the racing seat for three races. During the three races that Newman was out, Ross Chastain piloted the No. 6 Ford as his best result was a 17th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway in March. Following a two-month hiatus of on-track racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, when NASCAR returned at Darlington Raceway, Newman was cleared to return to drive Roush’s No. 6 car.
Since May, Newman has recorded seven top-15 results with a best result of 12th at Martinsville Speedway in June. He is ranked 26th in the regular-season standings and is 127 points below the top-16 cutline to make the Playoffs in his second season as driver of the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Though he missed three races to start this season, he is granted a waiver to qualify for the Playoffs should he win and gain enough points to make the cutline.
Catch Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 car’s milestone start in the Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.