Carl Edwards' victory last Sunday at Michigan gave car owner Jack Roush his 19th overall win at the two-mile oval. He lives in nearby Livonia, Mich., and has a manufacturing plant that employs 3,000 people about an hour from the racetrack.
Roush talked about his success -- and obsession -- at Michigan, as well as his group of drivers as the Chase for the Championship approaches after Sunday's race. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: You said four years ago that Carl Edwards was your next superstar after he won the truck race at Daytona. You were criticized for moving him to the Cup series the next year. How rewarding is his success now?
Roush: It's great. I feel a little lonely in the decisions I have to make on many subjects at many different times. But, Carl demonstrated to me -- and as David Ragan does and as Matt Kenseth did before him, and Greg Biffle did -- that he's going to be as good in this business as anybody I've ever known. And he's going to stay there for a long time. So, I was right on recognizing he had potential -- and very quickly after he won his first race at Charlotte, I told him, "I'll stay in the business as long as you drive these cars," and I hope that I've got job security for a long time now on account of that.
Question: Can you describe your feelings about winning 19 times at Michigan?
Roush: I can't believe my good fortune. I've been in the presence of really fast company, starting with Mark Martin here in 1988. We didn't win in #88 but we were in contention from the very beginning, and of course he put his mark on our program and on our cars and our strategy and on our thinking.
Question: David Ragan is just 24 points from the top 12 - and a spot in the Chase. Can you comment on his progression in the last two years?
Roush: The fate of David as it relates to the Chase will be based on whether he's involved in a wreck at a bad time or whether we break a part, which winds up being my fault, and whether the other people that are in the top four or the back four positions in the top 12 have better luck than he does in terms of how well things develop on the race track. But, David is doing everything that he can. He's matured more than I could've imagined this year for his age. When Carl came onto the scene I think he was already 26, and Mark Martin was 28, Jeff Burton was 28, Greg Biffle was 28, so David Ragan is way ahead of everybody that's currently driving for us in terms of what he's doing at his age, because the other guys weren't involved with us at that time. We're learning from David, and when we get it figured out we'll be able to do for him what he needs to have done, same as we tried to do for everybody else.
Question: As you look for ways to find an advantage, are you sending cars to Germany to test at the Audi wind tunnel?
Roush: We've searched the world for resources and for help with our programs and you do have it right, the best wind tunnel that we've found in the entire world is the Audi wind tunnel in Stuttgart and we go over there whenever we can and test, hopefully with our competitors not knowing what we're up to, but from time to time we're in Stuttgart and have more confidence in the data and get things that are more representative of what happens on the race track at that wind tunnel than anyplace in the world.
Question: You've been outspoken about the approval process for Toyota's engines. NASCAR recently put restrictions on Toyota in the Nationwide Series. Are you satisfied?
Roush: Being absolutely clear, when NASCAR approved the Toyota engine, they gave them a bunch of considerations from a parameter point of view, a dimension point of view, that were outside the box in terms of what the Ford engine was. The pushrods are straighter. The camshaft is higher. The pushrods are shorter. The valve train is stiffer. The cooling system works better. All of those things were things that NASCAR uses discretion to approve that obsolete the Ford engine and we can't make as much power as they do with the parts we have and right now we can't afford to obsolete all the parts that we have, so NASCAR, in the interest of fairness and balance in the competition from a potential point of view, after they went to great lengths to be able to check the engines to find out what they were doing, decided that they needed to rein Toyota in and that's what they did. There's crying and complaining about it, but the problem was when they submitted the engine -- Toyota had approved things that obsolete, really, everybody else, and now we've all got the necessity to come back and re-design and obsolete our current engines in order to get competitive. The error wasn't ours for getting behind, the error was in what Toyota offered and what NASCAR approved.
- Compiled by Don Coble