THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF MID-OHIO LEXINGTON, Ohio. (June 23, 2007) - Jack Roush, Jr., co-driver Dean Martin, and the entire team of the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang experienced the full range of emotions during the KONI Challenge GS division...
THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF MID-OHIO
LEXINGTON, Ohio. (June 23, 2007) - Jack Roush, Jr., co-driver Dean Martin, and the entire team of the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang experienced the full range of emotions during the KONI Challenge GS division race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. They saw the highest of highs when Roush took the race lead on the 2.258-mile natural road course, and sank to the lowest of lows when a broken ball joint sent Martin into the tire barrier late in the race.
Roush qualified the car in the 26th position and per the KONI Challenge rules took the first stint behind the wheel. Through a combination of good driving, picking the right passing opportunities, and pit strategy Roush slashed his way through the field and was up to third position when a full course caution slowed the field on lap 41.
After the top two cars immediately ducked into pit road for service, Roush found himself in the lead, the first time of his fledgling Grand-Am career that he paced the field.
"Yeah, it felt really great to be leading the race," Roush said after getting out of the car to many congratulations and back slaps from his crew. "I've done that many times before in go-karts, but never in Grand-Am competition. It's a pretty awesome feeling to be in front of the field."
Unfortunately, this unfamiliar position that Roush found himself in led to a rookie gaffe. In his haste to get the car into the pits for service and a driver change he peeled off onto pit road and passed the pace car which remained on the track. The KONI Challenge officials held the ROUSH Performance Mustang in the pits for a one-lap penalty.
"Well, that screwed up that (great track position)," Roush said sheepishly after learning about the penalty.
During the pit stop Martin, the team co-driver, climbed into the cockpit of the ROUSH Performance Mustang and returned to the action back in 26th position, one lap down. They made this lap back as the recipient of the "Lucky Dog" rule during another caution period which put the team back on the lead lap.
Late in the race Martin had worked through the field and was on the verge of cracking the top-10 when he went into Turn 3 and pushed his foot on the brake when nothing happened. At least, nothing he expected.
Without brakes Martin slid off the course into the gravel trap and hit the tire barrier hard, the car twisting in air and coming to a rest atop the retaining wall in a giant cloud of dust.
When asked about his spin in the No. 59 during a post-race interview, Martin said at the time he wasn't sure what happened.
"I don't know what the problem was a brake failure or a ball joint, but I put it off backwards at the end of the straightaway real hard, went all the way across the sand trap and up onto the wall, looking down," Martin said. "It was a big one. I went off full bore and into the wall." After returning to the team transporter and looking at the car, Martin determined that it was a ball joint failure, the second of the season for the team. The incident relegated the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang to a 23rd place finish in the final standings.
The No. 59 Ford Mustang, based out of the Rehagen Racing shop in Westland, Mich., carries sponsorship from ROUSH Performance, ROUSH Brakes, Kenwood, RacerBargains.com and Piloti. Last season this was the highest-finishing Mustang in the series.
In a bright note, ROUSH Performance did visit victory lane during the race as the company was on the rear quarterpanel of the winning No. 52 Piloti Mustang. This is a Rehagen Racing team car and was driven by Martin and Ken Wilden for their first race win of the season.
-credit: roush performance