Business "Out Of Control"
Roush's five-car team includes drivers Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, MattKenseth, Kurt Busch,
"It's a huge operation, and Jack is a good businessman," says RobbieReiser, crewchief for Kenseth's car. "But he also tries to take care ofhis people. I don't know of another car owner that would have done whatJack did when he ran the 99 car for an entire season without a sponsor.Those who could do it, probably wouldn't."
More teams mean more opportunity to learn, more chances to win, morepayroll, more sponsor commitments, more shop space--more of everything.
At any given race, Roush may have as many as 10 teams at a track, and headmits it can be hard to keep everything in check.
"It's been out of control for years," he says grinning. "But control isjust a state of mind."
He spends most races working the figures for Martin's car. He looks atlap times, knows the carb jettings and what kind of fuel consumption thecar is getting. He knows exactly when it should run dry.
"It's not much, but it's all I can do," he says.
You get the feeling Roush sometimes longs for the days when he could domore, when there was more for him to do. He is not unlike manyexecutives who have built a successful business and worked themselvesout of the very jobs that attracted him to their careers. So while Roushis setting the course for his racing empire, it is the people he's hiredwho have their hands on the tiller.
Make no mistake--Roush is still very much the man in charge.
"Jack's always in the middle of things, like you would expect a hands-onteam owner to be," says Reiser. "Sometimes I'm really glad he's there,then there are times I wish he wasn't."
Kenseth gave Roush its first Cup championship in 2003.
Take Tuesdays, for example.
Each week, Roush calls together the key players from all his teams tosit down and talk over what happened the previous weekend.
"We each compare ourselves to the other teams, because we all haveaccess to similar equipment," Richert says. "As a crewchief, as long asGreg and I stand behind our decisions--that we made what we thought werethe best ones at the time--he's pretty good about letting us do thingsour way. If we screw up, he's going to want to know why."
"When we are doing well, he leaves us to ourselves," Reiser explains."When we aren't doing well, then the rope gets a little tighter.
"He puts no limit on what we can do when it comes to testing. If we wantto try something really different, or look at something from a differentangle, he lets us do it. He actually encourages us. But if we findsomething that works, we are better off sharing things with the otherteams. First of all, in a company this big, you can't keep a secretanyway. And sometimes, when we tell the others about it on Tuesday,they'll run with it and make it better."
Building A Reputation
Roush is among the most easily recognized characters in NASCAR. Hemarches from garage to garage, his brow furrowed as he turns a problemover in his head. He can be so focused that he doesn't even see thepapers and programs thrust toward him for autographs.
Busch made it a Roush repeat when he earned the Cup title last season.
When things are going well, when everything is under control, a grinopens beneath his always-present hat as he poses for photos, talks withfans, or tells youngsters about how to get involved in racing.
While Roush came into the series as a NASCAR rookie, he was far from anewcomer to racing, and he wasn't timid.
"Jack doesn't know how to put his toe in the water," says Robert Yates,who has worked both with and against Roush. "He simply arrives andkicks a hole in the wall. Everyone knew he was there."
"I had already won multiple championships and knew what racing is allabout," Roush says. "Maybe I wasn't 'rookie' enough for them or maybethey saw the degrees from Ohio and forgot I was born in Kentucky."
Jack came to NASCAR during an era when most car owners had built theirteams up from scratch, often relying on old-school technology that haddefined the sport for decades, technology only a step or two away fromlocal bullrings, in some cases. Roush arrived as a degreed engineer, aformer college math instructor, and someone with deep ties to Ford.
He showed from the start that success would follow him.
"His philosophy [involves] putting time, energy, and resources intosomething until he is successful," says Yates. "Nothing is going todissuade him.
"Opinionated? Oh yes. He has an opinion on everything, and he's neverbeen reluctant to share it."
Simply said, Roush irritated NASCAR.
Edwards is the latest driver to join the Roush brigade.
"That's up to a writer to say, not me," Roush says. "But I'm sure thatMark Martin would have won a couple of championships if he had beendriving for another team years ago."
Instead, Martin--with four Second-Place finishes in the points--couldbecome the best NASCAR driver in history never to win the season title.
The Martin/Roush duo hit NASCAR in 1988 when they finished 15th inpoints in his rookie year. In 1989, Martin was Third; in 1990, he lostthe title to Dale Earnhardt by 26 points. He finished Second toEarnhardt again in 1994, to Jeff Gordon in 1998, and to Tony Stewart in2002.
Roush openly criticized NASCAR for penalties he feels cost Martin thechampionship. He might have won in 1990 had his team not been fined 46driver points for an illegal carburetor spacer found on his Ford after arace at Richmond International Raceway. He was docked 25 points forusing an unapproved spring in 2002. That penalty was moot. Stewartfinished more than 25 points ahead of Martin, but the penalty added fuelto the critics who feel NASCAR has a bias against the veteran.
"NASCAR," says one, "has a very long memory."
So does Roush. He remembers everything it took him to get where he istoday.
"I think I'd like to be known as someone who didn't give up," he says."I want people to remember me as someone who didn't change in the faceof opposition, who fought for what he thought was right even when heknew he couldn't win the fight, and who always did what was best for thesport and my teams.
"And I'd like to be known as someone who won races."
After the organization faced disappointment at Daytona, Biffle won thenext race at Califor
Not this time. It's Sunday evening. The last of the Roush cars are beingpushed into the haulers and tied down for the trip back to Concord,where they'll be stripped bare and rebuilt for the next superspeedwayrace.
Roush is making his final round of the teams, thanking each one of themfor the months-long marathon it takes to get to Daytona.
Busch came up one position shy of winning NASCAR's biggest race. It'snot the first time a Roush driver has finished Second.
"He gave it a heck of a run," says the boss. "He was in there gettingeverything there was to get, right until the flag fell."
He stops and stares at Biffle's car. Its front fenders are alreadymissing, the driver-side door is decorated with black circles fromrubbing tires with the competition, and the tail end is covered withduct tape.
He takes a second look. Then he grins, shakes his head, and walks away.
From under the hat comes his gravelly voice: "Nice job, guys. Good workout there."