Martinsville: Roush - Friday media visit, part 1

Car owner Jack Roush held a Q&A session in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center to address the issue of his comments in the recent issue of ESPN The Magazine. JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- Roush Fenway Ford Fusions "I find myself in...

Car owner Jack Roush held a Q&A session in the Martinsville Speedway infield media center to address the issue of his comments in the recent issue of ESPN The Magazine.

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -- Roush Fenway Ford Fusions

"I find myself in the eye of the storm. Unlike the last time I was here, I'm not mad today. I'm not gonna answer any question that all of you might have that would take me past the point of giving you information that I think is appropriate given the other considerations that are going on behind the scenes right now. My apologies to one or more of you that approached me as I entered the garage area this morning before I had a chance to see what in fact had happened in the news. I don't hang on the web for any inflammatory comment than anybody might make that could aggravate me or be relevant or irrelevant to facts that are developing.

"I will take some questions. I'll tell you in advance that if they expand the information I'm prepared to give you, the facts that I'm going to relate, I'll just refrain from giving you an answer on that. But I do want to fill in any holes in the story or the information I'm inclined to unravel for you. It's no surprise or no mystery that I was really upset at Atlanta when I found myself confronted with the fact -- I actually woke up to news that morning with Lee White's comments in USA Today that there was a strong insinuation that either I was stupid or I was complicit in the thing that had happened with the oil dry sump tank lid at Las Vegas, and the fact was that I didn't know what it was worth. We hadn't anticipated that being an issue and for somebody to have explored in that area and have prior carnal knowledge of what that was worth, and prepared to maybe use it or not use it depending on what they thought the risk was, was really making me crazy at the time.

"In that context, I gave an interview to a number of you regarding things around my angst and what I thought was appropriate or inappropriate that was being said and done. One of the people that I gave an interview with was a writer for the ESPN Magazine and I gave that Friday or Saturday and I guess the magazine was published maybe Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. Of course there was all this brouhaha about what I had said about the theft that had occurred last year.

ROUSH PROCEEDED TO READ THE BRIEF IN ESPN THE MAGAZINE. He confirmed that the quote was correct and that "I'm not perished for having given it, although except for being aggravated, I probably wouldn't have given it given other considerations."

"This was the point this morning that I was asked to comment on and I hadn't seen it yet, but this has since been given to me by my PR folks.

READING FROM AN ESPN.COM ARTICLE -- "Toyota's president says team did not intentionally possess an RFR part," and Jim Aust, I refute what Jim Aust says in this article, but I wanted to make sure that I understood clearly what he said before I responded to it.

AGAIN READING FROM THE ARTICLE -- "Jim Aust, president and chief executive officer of Toyota Racing Development said once the part was found to belong to Roush Fenway, it was returned." "That is not true, I believe."

READING AGAIN. "He was uncertain how the part was discovered on a table with other Toyota parts, how it got there and from which team it came." He goes on and responds about the teardown process that involve springs and other parts coming off cars after the race.

"I'll tell you facts that I believe to be true based on, one, I either have first-hand knowledge, or I have second-hand knowledge that I believe is correct. If I subsequently find that what I've told you as fact is not correct, I will make an appropriate apology at an appropriate time.

"Looking at the timeline for what occurred. At Dover last year -- the fall Dover race -- a number of the teams had a number of proprietary parts in our car as we attempt to work within NASCAR's bounds and do things uniquely for our car that are within the rules that will allow us to get an advantage. One of the challenges this car has is it's heavy in the front end. It's hard to achieve the balance you'd like to have and get enough nose weight off the car to let it balance properly from a weight and balance point of view.

"One of the areas that we've worked in is the front swaybar. It's not subject to a NASCAR teardown inspection. It was not a part that would have been mixed up with other Toyota parts -- a front anti-roll swaybar. And within the confines -- the package that NASCAR gives you, the material, the dimension, all those things -- we designed our own part and we did an analysis of it. We optimized the torsional effect of it with minimizing the weight of it through heat treating and material selection and the way the components were machined and the way it was assembled.

"Let me tell you what happened and then I'll tell you how we became aware of it secondarily. What happened was, this part -- let's just say it's a three-inch diameter part now with a hollow configuration and a very stiff end that welds on this machine dialed at 4130 or some exotic steel that's properly heat treated or effectively heat treated.

"Anyway, the tool boxes that the teams use in the garage area for their normal practice and qualifying would historically have had a deposit reservoir or receptacle in them to hold a number of bars that might have been up to two-and-three-quarters inch in diameter. Well, this part is bigger than that part has traditionally been. It's inside NASCAR's box of what it could be and the carrying storage box had not been revised for that. So each team of my teams has 12 or 14 selections of this box that you tune on as you make your choice -- if you want to make it tighter or looser or trying a bigger bar or changing the wedge.

"So they had a number of the bars out there. They're all serial numbered. They're painted uniquely for a Roush Fenway color and they're uniquely configured. They wouldn't fit somebody else's car unless they copied it. So as they're removing and replacing the bars, they storm underneath the toolbox. Well, imagine this, the toolboxes are back-to-back, these bars -- maybe a half-dozen of them at any given point in time -- are underneath the toolbox. The other team, the non-descript Toyota team, went behind my toolbox and took my bar out of my inventory and put it with their inventory and took it home with them. That's a fact. It has not been refuted and it has been discussed with the team involved."

"In January, I became aware that a vendor that makes proprietary parts for us, the drawings that we produce, actually it happens to be a fellow that used to work for me at a point in time years ago, was contacted by the development manager of this team who wanted to know if he would be willing to produce for him the ends for the Roush front roll anti swaybar. Well, the antennae went up. We found out about that and when the manager found out, he went to look and see if we had any missing bars and, sure enough, out of at least 24 bars we had built per team, plus any test team stuff that we had -- more than 100 of these bars -- one bar was missing. It was serialized. We knew which bar it was. It had showed up missing at Dover. They thought it had been misplaced and nobody had raised the issue. Certainly, I wasn't aware of it.

"In the meantime, mechanics and people from teams move around. We had hired somebody that had worked for that team, who may have worked for us before they'd worked for the team, that became aware of the discussion about the missing bar. 'Yeah, I saw the bar. I know where it is. It's in some storage area that is in this other team's place.' In the meantime, we made a separate inquiry. I say we, I'm not speaking of Jack, but Roush Fenway made a second inquiry with somebody that still worked for that team to find out if the bar was there. The bar was reportedly still there.

"I found out about it and I wanted to go supersonic. 'We're going up. We're going to get a search warrant. We're going to get the bar. It's intellectual espionage that's going on here. They've stolen the part. They've got access to it. They've had an opportunity to see what it does, see what its efficiency for weight and for function are and we've been damaged. We've been harmed by this theft.'

"So before I get things organized to tell people what to do about this, one of my managers calls a manager for that team and says, 'You know, we've got information and confirmation that somebody from your team has stolen the bar and that it's in your possession.' I heard that had been done and I said, 'That was stupid. That thing will wind up in the river some place. It'll be gone. We've missed our chance to get our arms around this thing.'

"But we got the call back and the manager said, 'I had no knowledge of that,' and I believed that was true. He went back and he found that they had the bar and they chose to tell us that they had the bar. Again, without my knowledge -- there are 300-400 people that work for Roush Fenway that do things everyday that I would like to have my arms around, but I can't do that try as I might -- so a clandestine meeting was arranged at 6 o'clock in the morning to return the bar one manager to the other. I got the bar back.

"It's been sandblasted. It's got its appearance changed, but it's still got the serial number on it and it's got all the proprietary considerations that it had. It hasn't been re-machines. It hasn't been changed in shape. It hasn't been welded on. They didn't grind the numbers off. It's my bar. I've got it back.

"Roush Fenway is getting all loaded up to go public with this thing and do a deal that says, 'Alright, we're just going to go get a restraining order. They can't use any of the bars they've got until they proved that they haven't used this technology and haven't used that consideration at Daytona.' I said, 'Stop. Wait a minute. Let me have a conversation with the guys at NASCAR.'

"There is a lot of proprietary inner-team, NASCAR to team, team-to-team discussions going on that are and should remain private. I said, 'Let's just go see if we can work this thing out.' So, subsequently, I've had three discussions with NASCAR people, not all the same person, as I attempted to work my way through this with an appropriate sanction and relief could be given to me for the theft that occurred. I still don't have a satisfactory resolution to that. I'm not going to say what the status of those discussions are, but we've had numerous conversations and I took it there first.

"In the meantime, Lee White says, 'Well, you were complicit in this thing and you obviously should have known what it was because here is what it's worth,' and in that context I gave ESPN Magazine a bit of news that says, 'Look, they shouldn't be throwing rocks around because they may just be subject to having a restraining order against one or more of their teams for the fact that they were involved with a theft.'

"I asked Geoff Smith I said, 'Can I say that we had a theft?' 'You can say that we had a theft because we can prove it. We've got the part back. We've got the information that says what happened. We know what happened. They didn't bring it back until they were confronted in January -- months later after they'd had it for all that time. They didn't bring it back until they were confronted with the fact that we knew that they had it and we were prepared to go in and with a court order on our side to try and get it back.'

"There are people ready to sweep dirt under a rug. I don't want to embarrass the sponsor. I really don't want to embarrass the team, but I also don't want to be made to either look stupid or complicit as it relates to the things that might occur within my team or have occurred within my team as it relates to NASCAR's rules. It is interesting that the high standard that we've got, for the things that the teams would do in an effort to race with one another, doesn't apply to the simple moral conduct that -- for me to have to go to the courts and the rules of the broader society to deal with this problem will be a disappointment to me. I'm not going to comment more on that.

"I believe that I have filled in most of the holes. A theft did occur. The part was recovered. It was a proprietary part. It was within NASCAR's rules. It was a legal part and it was not returned at a point in time when people within that team would have realized that they had a part. They altered the appearance of the part by changing the paint on it or blasting the unique paint that we had off of it, and it is back and it is in our inventory and we are still considering what, if any, legal action we'll seek in the public sector."

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jack Roush
Teams Toyota Racing