ROUSH, REHAGEN RACING SECURE 16TH PLACE FINISH SIX-HOUR GRAND-AM CUP ENDURO ALTON, Va. (October 7, 2006) -- It was an up-and-down day for Jack Roush, Jr. and the Rehagen Racing team during the Wheel Enhancement GS Enduro presented by EMC ...
ROUSH, REHAGEN RACING SECURE 16TH PLACE FINISH SIX-HOUR GRAND-AM CUP ENDURO
ALTON, Va. (October 7, 2006) -- It was an up-and-down day for Jack Roush, Jr. and the Rehagen Racing team during the Wheel Enhancement GS Enduro presented by EMC Mechanical at the 3.27-mile Virginia International Raceway.
Under very cool and overcast conditions, which ultimately turned into a heavy rain, the team began the six-hour race near the back of the field, ran as high as ninth place, but by the time the checkered flag flew, ended the day in 16th place.
This was the first Grand-Am Cup start for Roush (Livonia, Mich.) who was a co-driver in the No. 59 Ford Mustang with Dean Martin (Westland, Mich.) and Ray Mason (Columbus, Ohio), both veterans of sports car competition. The team, with sponsorship from ROUSH Performance, Brandon Ford, Columbus Truck & Equipment and Racer Bargains, competes in the Grand Sport (GS) class, which is the premier division in Grand-Am Cup competition.
In GS competition, the driver who qualifies the car must also start the race. The decision was made late Friday to have Roush qualify the No. 59 Ford Mustang during the 15-minute session in which the driver's fastest lap in that time frame is what determines the team starting position.
"In qualifying I was a bit conservative," Roush explained of his 35th place starting position. "This is a long race and where we start is not as important as where we finish. I ran a bit slower than maybe I could have, but I didn't want to risk damaging the car."
Per the rules, Roush started the race and soon developed a consistent rhythm, slowly moving up through the field. Taking the second driving shift, getting into the car around the one hour mark, was Martin. During this late afternoon shift Martin posted the team's fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:06.881.
Mason took the third shift behind the wheel as night fell, and so did a light rain which got progressively worse. He relinquished the seat to Roush who took the final hour to the end of the event, and drove through the night and heaviest rain.
At the conclusion of the race, the team had completed 148 laps, four less than race winners Mikel Miller and Tim Traver in a Porsche 996. The highest finishing Mustang placed ninth in the field.
"I think we did pretty well today," Martin said of the team's performance. "We went against the scheduled plan of attack and I didn't think Jack would be real comfortable in the last stint but he did well so we just left him in there (to finish the race)."
Assessing Roush's driving debut, Martin said, "I think he did great. He started 35th and moved up about ten positions before he came in, so it is just a matter of him getting used to this car.
"The driving dynamics of a car are a little different than the kart he is used to. It's clear that the more time he spends in (the car) the faster he gets," Martin added.
"It was great, and a lot of fun," Roush said of his first start. "I think it was some good experience and racing at night and in the rain is something I have never done before. The only way to get better is to do it, so hopefully some of that happened tonight."
Roush said that the most challenging part of the race was, "Measuring the risk against speed, especially during the unknown of night and during the rain. That was a tough one. I think that for this type of race it comes down to survival and some consistency."
Roush's only major mishap of the weekend occurred late in the Thursday night test session. Behind the wheel for the first time in the dark, he got off the track, lost traction and slid into a tire barrier.
Though Roush was uninjured, the car sustained moderate bodywork damage along the entire driver's side and the team quickly worked to replace the left front fender, rear bumper cover and fix damage to the door and rear quarter panel. The tie-rod was also broken in the incident, but after a hard thrash by the Rehagen Racing crew the Mustang was back on the track first thing the next morning.