Ford Racing interview: Jack Roush

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This Week in Ford Racing

Jack Roush, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, has two of his cars poised for a chance at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Roush, takes his four-car operation to Martinsville this weekend looking for the organization’s first win there since 2002, and he took time with Ford Racing to discuss Martinsville as well as his thoughts on the Chase and his two championship-contending drivers.

Victory lane: Jack Roush celebrates
Victory lane: Jack Roush celebrates

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

WHAT IS YOUR ASSESSMENT OF THE CHASE RIGHT NOW? “If I had a chance to do it over and get a better result, or just take what we’ve got right now, I think I would keep what I have in hand right now. To have Matt and Carl where they are, and one of them in the lead, is certainly a better result than I had feared. We haven’t had a big wreck yet with either car, a broken part with either car and those things are always hanging over your head as you count points toward a championship. There is not likely to be a repeat on Jimmie Johnson, which is everybody’s worst fear except for the Hendrick bunch, unless we all have a broken part or everybody in front of him gives it back through a wreck, I think he is going to have trouble doing better on the race track. He can do better, but he would have to win nearly every race and have trouble from the other cars. He will be good at Martinsville and good at Texas, but we will be good at Texas and hopefully we will be better at Martinsville than history would dictate or suggest. I am optimistic. There are two races left that I have reasonable confidence in, Homestead and Texas. With Martinsville coming up and the changes they have made at the race track in Phoenix, those are the two joker races, the wild cards that will make or create a take-away scenario or facilitate a championship for anyone in the top-five.”

DO YOU THINK IT IS HARD FOR YOUR OTHER DRIVERS, GREG BIFFLE AND DAVID RAGAN, TO HAVE TO PLAY A SUBSERVIANT ROLE A LITTLE BIT AND TRY TO DO WHAT THEY CAN TO HELP MATT AND CARL TO A POSSIBLE CHAMPIONSHIP? IS IT HARD FOR THEM TO TOE THE LINE BETWEEN WANTING TO WIN THEMSELVES AND HAVE THEIR TEAMMATE BRING A TITLE TO ROUSH FENWAY? “There is no line for them to toe. They have a green light to win whatever race they can and the orders are no different. The expectation on my part is no different than it has ever been. I expect them not to wreck one another or to wreck Matt or Carl. We had a partnership of convenience paired off for Talladega. I was specific in a meeting with the drivers and crew chiefs on Saturday at Talladega that there is not an expectation on my part that Greg or David don’t make their best effort to win that race or any race. As long as they could do so without jeopardizing a good finish for Carl or for Matt or a crash that could result from exuberance. The other thing is that what is left of the year is a building opportunity for Greg and David. We are still trying to find sponsorship. We are actually closest on Carl and Greg on sponsorship requirements than we are for Matt and David. We need to make our best efforts to put the best face on the selling efforts that are ongoing for sponsorship for 2012.”

HOW DOES HAVING CARL AND MATT IN PRIME POSITION TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP HELP YOU SECURE SPONSORSHIP FOR NEXT YEAR? “The answer to that question is still TBD. We are making as much hay from it as we can in the negotiations and discussions that we have ongoing. Whether we are successful in leveraging that back to get all the support we need is yet to be determined.”

IT HAS BEEN AWHILE SINCE YOU HAVE WON AT MARTINSVILLE. WHAT HAS KEPT YOU FROM VICTORY LANE? “It is no secret that we have generally struggled on short tracks. We haven’t had a short track specialist. When Jeff Burton left the team several years ago and went to Childress, he had been the person to mark the way and provide leadership from a testing and hardware selection point of view. The other guys, they want to be good at short tracks but it has been more hit and miss with us. Having said that, Matt has been encouraged by his results and Carl won Phoenix last year and has run better. I am cautiously optimistic that Martinsville will be a non-event in terms of jeopardizing what we have going and that we will be able to maintain our points position through Martinsville and not have that jeopardized.”

HOW ARE MATT AND CARL DIFFERENT OR SIMILAR AS DRIVERS? “You know, they are probably more similar than they are different. Carl has gotten enough experience and maturity that today he is mindful of what his situation is throughout the race and to be careful to not jeopardize the best possible result by losing his mind or by going into despair over what might be his prospect. Matt over the years has had the occasional lapse of concentration that has caused problems for him on pit road but they are very infrequent. He is one of the most able and stable drivers that I have ever worked with or seen in the garage. I think he is in championship form and no less than in 2003 when he won his championship. I think that if you start them with the same cars, which they have, and the same engines, which they have, and with able crew chiefs that they both have and competitive engineering, which Ford has helped provide us with, then I think their prospects are equal.”

DOES MATT’S ABILITY TO KIND OF LAY IN THE WEEDS AND PRODUCE SUCH GOOD FINISHES WEEKEND AFTER WEEKEND SURPRISE YOU IN ANY WAY? “He reminds me of David Pearson in that regard. Carl is pretty similar with that, too. You have to really pay attention to all of Carl’s lap times to see what his prospects are and to see what the condition of his car is because, like Matt, every lap is not a 100-percent lap. There are times when maybe there is concern over fuel mileage and Carl is usually in a save mode even before an alarm bell goes off. They are very similar in that regard.”

WITH ALL THE OFF TRACK DISTRACTIONS THIS YEAR OF CARL’S CONTRACT AND TRYING TO SECURE SPONSORS, WOULD THAT MAKE WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR ANY MORE REWARDING TO YOU? “It would be great if it was Carl or Matt, either one. If it comes, it couldn’t come at a better time in terms of the sponsorship competition that is going on in the garage area. Marketing and activation for sponsors has become increasingly important and the competitiveness on the race track is something that can’t be denied as well. A championship would speak volumes for that.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags edwards, fenway, ford, kenseth, roush