This Week in Ford Racing May 20, 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Roush Racing will be looking to extend one of the more impressive streaks currently going in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series when it tries for a fifth straight victory in the Coca-Cola 600...
This Week in Ford Racing
May 20, 2003
NASCAR Winston Cup
Roush Racing will be looking to extend one of the more impressive streaks currently going in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series when it tries for a fifth straight victory in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Jack Roush, who is tied with former Ford owner Bud Moore for seventh on the all-time owners win list with 63 series triumphs, spoke about the streak and why winning races is more important to him than championships.
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner - Nos. 6, 16, 17, 97, 99 Ford Tauruses
THE COCA-COLA 600 IS A BIG RACE AND YOU'VE WON IT FOUR STRAIGHT TIMES. THAT MUST BE A SOURCE OF PRIDE. "Yeah, I'm real proud about that. I like 500-mile races. I like 600-mile races. I especially like 24-hour races. I like endurance races. As I recall, they had a five- or six-hour race at Riverside in IMSA and we won that one, so we've had really good luck the longer things run. If our stuff doesn't have a problem and if we're as durable as we should be for some weak component, then we'll be fine. I feel better about the 600-mile race than I do the restrictor-plate races."
AS YOU MENTIONED, YOU'VE HAD GREAT SUCCESS IN LONGER RACES. IS THERE A SPECIFIC PHILOSOPHY YOU PASS DOWN TO YOUR TEAMS WHEN IT COMES TO THESE EVENTS? "If we do our business correctly, if we measure our risks honestly and if we prepare as well as we might, then it doesn't matter so much if it's 400 miles or 600 miles. For the engine components that we test, we won't knowingly take something to a race track that won't last two-and-a-half races. So, if you've got a 500-mile race and we're testing a camshaft or some component that's expected to give trouble, anything less than 1,250 miles would fail and you wouldn't take that component. You would take something that was known to be more durable, so what winds up getting you is something you hadn't counted on and it will generally gets you before you get 400 miles. So stretching it out from 400 to 600 miles is not a problem for the hardware. Where there's an opportunity, if you're using your strategies correctly and you're figuring out what the race track needs, then you've got more time to react to things as the race goes on. You can start off further from the combination you need and, as long as you don't have some component like a shock absorber that just doesn't function ideally, then you've got a chance to make the necessary adjustments like the track bar, wedge and tire pressure and optimize your prospects. That's good because that means you can race for a long time."
THIS RACE HAS A LOT OF HYPE AND A LOT OF PRESTIGE. ARE THEY ALL THE SAME? DOES IT MEAN MORE TO YOU WINNING HERE BECAUSE IT'S A LONGER RACE? OR IS IT A CASE WHERE A WIN IS A WIN ON THIS CIRCUIT? "No, yes and probably a yes. It doesn't mean more because it's hyped more. I don't listen to that stuff much and I try not to get wrapped up in what the promotion or the expectation or the various conflicts that would be highlighted as the battle within the battle. I try not to pay any attention to that, but that fact that it is a 600-mile race means something. The fact that we've got a streak going today means something. If I looked at Las Vegas odds, I would suspect that they would not give us a great chance at being able to continue our string. But if you look at what we're doing in terms of the large amount of money that we spend in preparation for this by testing, then we're betting very heavily. I think that speaks volumes. In fact, there are people who really know what's going on that probably think it wouldn't be a great investment for us to be doing what we're doing to try and keep this thing going, but we're driven to do it because of our competitive nature."
IF YOU HAD TO HANDICAP YOUR FIVE DRIVERS IN A RACE OF THIS LENGTH, HOW WOULD YOU RANK THEM? "I think they're pretty much equal. I can make strike points for each one. Mark has always done well at Charlotte. It's been one of his favorite places and he did win last year. That's the last time he won and he's anxious to not go beyond the year mark without winning another race, so it's personal as well as professional for him. Jeff Burton has been in a little slump with new management and a new crew around him. With his re-dedication to the things he does, he's most anxious to win a race. He has won here and won here recently, so that's also a consideration for him. He's very, very hungry. Matt Kenseth has won here. He's won here very recently. He's leading the points, but the last four or five races have not been as good as the three or four races that preceded it, so he's anxious to get that straightened out and get back on track. He's obviously good. Kurt Busch is ready to race anybody, anytime, anywhere with anything. He hasn't won since Bristol so he's ready to get back and get going on the next stop in his destination and mission. Greg Biffle is extraordinarily enthusiastic and able. When and if we get the team organized to the point that they can function at Greg's level, which we can have a breakthrough at any event, Greg will be able to race with the poise and the confidence and sure-handedness of a senior and not a rookie. He could win. There is not one of my drivers that could win and surprise me to the point where I would say, 'I did not expect that to happen.' I expect that to happen and I'll be disappointed if we're not a factor in that event through one or more of our drivers."
YOU SAID A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO THAT YOU FOCUS MORE ON WINNING RACES AND NOT NECESSARILY CHAMPIONSHIPS. CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT? "I may be a sucker for instant gratification. I'm able to go tell before the night is over if we made the right decision on our gear collection and if we were able to react effectively to changes in the race track. I put closure on that and then prepare myself for the next challenge, which is the race next weekend. NASCAR has had a great program of championship racing and it's celebrated a lot of champions for a lot of years. For reasons that have been well documented and are not comfortable to re-visit, we have not been granted or graced with NASCAR Winston Cup championships and it's OK. I don't care. I'm doing the best I can and I'm happy with that. I've found peace and solace with myself and the way we run our programs and the efforts we've made. As long as I'm able to pay my bills and retain the amount of support and approval for what we do, then its OK if I don't win championships. I don't care."
YOU ARE CURRENTLY TIED FOR 7TH ON THE ALL-TIME NWC OWNERS WIN LIST WITH BUD MOORE AT 63. DO YOU EVER THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE ACCOMPLISHED SO FAR IN THIS SPORT? "This is my 16th year in racing Winston Cup and that total was not something I had taken note of, but I have been racing professionally for 32 years. We've won many, many championships in numerous series with programs that have been well executed, well sponsored, well conceived and effectively promoted and utilized in the various venues. I take great pride in that. NASCAR is certainly not more than half of what I feel that I have been involved with that has been worthwhile. In the modern era, we've got more than 200 victories and that includes road racing and NASCAR. The modern era for us started in 1984, but there was 15 years of serious racing before that which is not counted in the totals we have on our wall of victories. The NASCAR totals are a source of satisfaction and pride, particularly considering the respect I have for Bud Moore and his contemporaries and my contemporaries today. As the totals roll up, that is certainly a source of pride and satisfaction to know we've been able to measure ourselves against people who have done so well and are respected so much and say, 'We competed with them and performed with them.'"