ROUSH, MARTIN BATTLE WEATHER AND COMPETITORS FOR HOMESTEAD TOP-10 FINISH HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 15, 2007) -- Jack Roush, Jr. and his co-driver of the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang battled not only the other 45 drivers in the KONI Challenge...
ROUSH, MARTIN BATTLE WEATHER AND COMPETITORS FOR HOMESTEAD TOP-10 FINISH
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (April 15, 2007) -- Jack Roush, Jr. and his co-driver of the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang battled not only the other 45 drivers in the KONI Challenge race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but also overcome the weather on their way to a ninth place finish in today's event. This was the second Top-10 for the team in the two Grand-Am races held this season.
The race was slowed several times for full-course cautions, and ultimately ended under a yellow flag when a car spun off with just two laps remaining in the 87-lap race around the 2.3-mile stadium road course.
Roush took the first stint behind the wheel, and at the time the weather was extremely windy, humid with temperatures hovering in the upper 80-degrees. Roush qualified the team in 24th position, but in a post-qualifying inspection the officials found that a tire extended beyond the allowable tolerances and penalized the team by having them start the race at the rear of the field. The team was not alone however, as 11 of the GT class cars were found to have some type of infraction and placed at the back of the field for the race.
Once the green flag flew Roush ran conservatively for the first few laps and then began to slowly pick off his competitors. The team made a fuel-only pit stop on lap 11 during the first caution, and Roush continued driving to lap 34 when they brought him in for tires and a driver change.
"It was rough out there," Roush said after getting out of the car. "The traffic was insane. I narrowly missed a couple of wrecks and almost got into it with one car in particular a couple of times."
Martin left the pits in 28th position and quickly worked through traffic as the weather held off around the racetrack, despite the radar showing rain throughout the rest of south Florida. Though he reported a front-end vibration to his crew over the radio, it didn't slow him down any in his quest to the front. After only 15 circuits of the course Martin had positioned the ROUSH Performance Mustang into 16th place, and then cracked the top-10 on lap 51.
He steadily moved up through the field and was running in eighth position when the rain began, slowly at first then turning to a steady downpour that quickly wet the track and made conditions treacherous.
By this time the team was in fourth and had a critical decision to make -- stay out on slick tires and risk sliding off the track, or pit for rain tires and potentially lose valuable track position? Martin implored his team to watch the other cars as they pitted to see if they were changing to rain tires.
Ultimately, he made the call over the radio. "It's getting really slick out here. I'm coming in right now for rain tires and top off the gas tank," he instructed his pit crew on lap 73.
Throughout the exchange of pit stops he fell to 13th, but was able to battle back for an eighth place finish. Because of the length of the cautions, the Grand-Am officials had to enact the 2.5-hour time limit on the event which ended after 87 laps.
Still, at the end of the race Martin seemed pleased. "I thought we had more," he said. "Actually, I know we had more. Once I turned on the defroster and it just didn't work properly I couldn't see much of danything out there. I think if I could have had better visibility we could have had at least one, maybe a couple of more positions."