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HOMESTEAD -- Jack Roush Sr. celebrated a racing milestone yesterday at Homestead-Miami Speedway when his son, Jack Roush Jr., and co-driver Billy Johnson won the Homestead 200 (Grand Sport Class) at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The win marked the 400th all-time victory for Roush Sr. in road racing and NASCAR combined.
The race, which was part of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Series, featured Roush Jr. starting from the 34th position and driving his Mustang GT all the way through the field until he finally got the lead on Lap 35 of the 91-lap event.
Roush Sr. spoke about his feelings on that memorable victory while Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing North America Motorsports, also provided some comments after witnessing yesterday’s race.
JACK ROUSH SR., Owner, Roush Fenway Racing
Q. JACK HAD TO START FROM THE BACK AND DROVE IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE FIELD. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS WATCHING THAT?
A. It was unfortunate in the race yesterday that the pole qualifying time Jack earned was disqualified based on an infraction the sanctioning body said that he had for his brake duct placement, so they removed the brake ducts that were in question and he had to start in the back. There were two or three other cars that had to start in the back as well, but without pit stops he went to 12th or 13th under green, and when he turned the car over to Billy Johnson around the midway point, he was in first place. Billy was able to maintain that, and one of the reasons was a decision to only make one stop. The fuel system of the Ford Mustang was able to get great fuel economy that allowed them to make one stop instead of two, so they raced up front the last half of the race. It was a timed race of two hours and 30 minutes, and when the last caution occurred within 15 minutes of the end, he was able to stretch his lead out in the closing laps and they were able to finish first. That’s the second time this driver combination has won.
Q. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION?
A. When Jack decided he wanted to road race three years ago, I was not sure that’s what we needed to be doing. He was already more than 30 years old and past the time when a lot of drivers would get started. He was building his family and building his career at Roush Industries, and I wasn’t sure that’s what he ought to be doing, but he seemed to be committed to it, as my daughter is, and she works for the company as well, in addition to drag racing. So I forwarded him the consideration of providing some sponsorship and, initially, he found Rehagen Racing, a Michigan team that races Ford Mustangs, and he purchased a seat with that team for a year-and-a-half, and then last year made the deal with Mike Canny of Horsepower Ranch out of Virginia. I thought was going to be my salvation of not having to put forward another race team for my son, but then Mike Canny decided in February of 2009 that he wouldn’t race anymore. Jack raced the equipment that Canny had, exclusive of the car which he owned, but he used Canny’s trailer and his equipment for the balance of 2009 and then we fitted him up with his own stuff. We re-committed Roush Racing, which was in a dormant state, to go road racing with Jack and Susan, and he won in his second race.
Q. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT 400 WINS?
A. It makes me feel old. It was ironic that my son was there. I know that when he was about three weeks old I had a serious drag racing wreck in my pro stock car. I had purchased a gasoline-power, four-cycle Briggs and Stratton jeep for Jack to ride around in. He was three or four weeks old, and I got home with my concussion after spending a week in the hospital. My wife, Pauline, stayed with the three children at home – Susan, Patricia and young Jack – and this jeep was parked on the front porch. She wouldn’t let it in the house and when I got home she asked me, ‘What is that all about?’ And I said, ‘Well, the boy needed to have his first race car and I figured I couldn’t get started too soon.’ But he closed the deal yesterday and got the 400th victory for our organization and I’m very proud of him.
Q. YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF GREAT DRIVERS THROUGH THE YEARS TO GET YOU TO THIS POINT. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?
A. We’ve been very successful and had the opportunity to race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series, so we’ve had a great opportunity to be involved with a lot of great drivers over more than three decades since we started counting the wins. It’s been amazing and quite a ride. To look back and think about all the great drivers who have been in these cars, and what it’s meant to Roush Racing and Roush Fenway and to their careers, it’s just incredible. It makes me feel old.
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford North America Motorsports
Q. WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR JACK TO WIN #400?
A. Being right there in the moment when Jack, a lifelong part of Ford Motor Company, notched his 400th win was special. Having his son a part of that moment and me personally representing Ford and watching the Mustang cross that finish line to deliver it was great. Afterwards I went up to Jack and Jack Jr. and gave them a big Ford hug.”
Q. WHAT DOES JACK MEAN TO FORD RACING?
A. He is a part of the Ford family. He started his career at Ford, raced a Ford, built Fords and campaigned Fords from Trans-Am to NASCAR. He is the spirit of Ford and Ford Racing. Through him, legions of fans follow Ford. All of the success we have enjoyed is built on the arms and backs of people who work at Roush. We are so thrilled for him to celebrate a very monumental victory and it is even more special that Jack Jr. was involved. I really know Jack Jr. very well and he is a chip off the old block.
Q. WHAT WAS IT LIKE WATCHING HIM COME FROM BEHIND TO WIN?
A. I was there about four years ago when Jack Jr. got into Grand Am and was down at VIR in a rainy and cold overnight race. Yesterday at the race in Miami, he started last and had to work through the field to deliver the car in first place to his co-driver, who carried it forward. Great driving, great team, great Mustang and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving driver.