Roush eyes possible return to road racing

Roush eyes possible return to road racing

NASCAR team co-owner Jack Roush was present at Daytona International Speedway Friday, to watch his son, Jack Jr. compete in the KONI Challenge Series race. The former drag racing and sports car owner expressed interest in possibly returning to...

NASCAR team co-owner Jack Roush was present at Daytona International Speedway Friday, to watch his son, Jack Jr. compete in the KONI Challenge Series race. The former drag racing and sports car owner expressed interest in possibly returning to his roots in the future, if the right opportunity comes up.

Press conference: Jack Roush.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

"I think the Grand-Am Series is going in an incredible rate in the right direction. I would very much like to engage," said the two-time Sprint Cup Series Championship team owner.

Roush got his start in auto racing by running Pro Stock cars in drag racing before moving to road racing in 1982. The team dominated the IMSA and Trans-Am ranks, claiming 24 national championships and 119 victories. Roush Racing also took 10 consecutive class wins in Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, all with Ford machinery. In 1988, he formed his first of five Cup teams and has exclusively focused on NASCAR since 1998, growing it into one of the series' premier organizations.

"I had great success here with the GTO and GTS cars," Roush reminisced. "I came here 10 times from '85 to '97 and the last time was with Paul Newman and we entered 10 times and won 10 times in our class. That's a record that I'm really proud of."

But Roush withdrew from his road racing program in 1997 after Tommy Kendall earned his third consecutive Trans-Am title. He won all but two races that season.

"One thing that we've always done is that our racing programs have always been viable," Roush explained. "They've been businesses that were solvent and we weren't able to do that with road racing and what it required, so we stepped away."

Ford has recently increased its involvement in road racing programs in the Rolex Series by providing engines and technical support to Daytona Prototype teams. In fact, two Roush-Yates Ford-powered Rileys swept the front row for Saturday's Rolex 24. The blue oval also supplies engines to two other DP teams. Roush said that he would love to re-enter road racing, mainly if funding and support comes into place.

"All I need to do is to find sponsorship," he said. "I can't see myself racing anything but a Ford - and have the manufacturer interest to support that. I would love to be here. It would be a great opportunity to come back. The 24 Hour race in particularI was the most exciting, most rewarding and most challenging racing I've ever did. I look forward to doing some more."

In 2007, Fenway Sports Group, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, joined forces with Roush, making the team Roush Fenway Racing. Roush said that the priority right now is in NASCAR.

"I need to get my NASCAR Cup teams matured a little bit more," Roush explained. "I've got some challenges, that I didn't get the result I needed last year. So it has my undivided attention right nowI Every year, I think we're going to breakthrough and it's going to be epic for us for what we can do. We've won a couple of championships, but we still haven't done what I'd like to do. So we're still working on it."

Roush has come back to see the Rolex 24 for the first time in over ten years and has been very impressed by the rapid growth of the event.

"I think Jim France and the NASCAR family and the France family have done a great job with road racing," he stated. "When I come back to the Rolex 24 and I remember what it was like in 1997, the last time I was here, and I see the proliferation of motor homes and realize how many people are going to be here and what the exposure is and the relevance is to motorsports enthusiasts throughout the country, they've done a great job getting it elevated. I'd enjoy getting on the train again, I think it'd be fun."

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Series GRANDAM