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Roush Developing More Than Drivers

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« on: October 26, 2007, 11:24:32 am »

10-25-2007

Roush Developing More Than Drivers
~TruckSeries.com Report 


ROUSH: 'I FEEL LIKE I AM HELPING PUT DOWN SOME OF THE FOUNDATION THAT COVERS EVERYTHING WE DO IN NASCAR'

With more than 300 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts and a firm grip on the series record books, team owner Jack Roush sees the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as the perfect place to develop every position in Roush Fenway Racing.

Roush holds the most NCTS wins by an owner (48), along with the most pole positions by a current team (37).   At Dover International Speedway last month, Roush Fenway Racing also claimed its 100th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victory with Carl Edwards' win.  With all these accolades, something is working for Roush, recognized industry-wide for maintaining the best driver development model in the business.

"The Truck Series helps develop people," said Roush, who won the 2000 NCTS championship with Greg Biffle.  "I'm able to take entry-level mechanics and oftentimes drivers who would not be candidates based on their experience for the Busch or the Cup Series.  We're able to bring them in and give them a chance, which otherwise would be hard to manage and accomplish."

Ten different drivers have won in a Roush Fenway Truck since the team's series debut in July 1995 and five have claimed rookie-of-the-year honors.  Biffle holds the most NCTS wins for Roush Fenway Racing at 16.  Mark Martin (7 wins), Joe Ruttman (6), Carl Edwards (6), Travis Kvapil (4), Kurt Busch (4), Jon Wood (2),  Erik Darnell (1), Mike Bliss (1) and Ricky Craven (1) have also taken the "cat in the hat" to victory lane. 

"In my opinion, Roush Fenway Racing uses the Craftsman Truck Series just as it should be used - as a training ground," said SPEED reporter Ray Dunlap.  "If you look at any of their NEXTEL Cup teams, you will see multiple graduates from the Trucks. From drivers to crew chiefs and mechanics alike, the lessons learned from racing in the NCTS are invaluable training for moving up in NASCAR."

Roush not only develops drivers in the Truck Series; he takes them to the pinnacle of the sport.
 
"I think Roush Fenway has really used the Truck Series as a driver developmental league to get their drivers to the top," said Adam Alexander, SPEED reporter for the NCTS.  "They've probably had more success doing it than anybody.  They have a real good understanding of how to make the Truck Series work within their program.  I'd say that's why they have stuck with it more so than the other prominent owners.  Roush likes winning at every level and he sees an opportunity to win in the Trucks."
 
Biffle, Busch and Edwards are evidence Roush Fenway Racing's program is solid and proven.

"Greg Biffle used a perfect NASCAR evolution and nearly won championships in all three series," Alexander observed.  "He's got a Truck and Busch championship and was within a handful of points of winning a Cup title.  He has been competitive and has been in the Chase."

Roush's program appears to so effectively mold drivers in the Truck Series that they are capable of graduating straight to the Cup Series.

"When you look at guys like Kurt Busch, he was very successful in Trucks and went straight to Cup and we know what he's been able to do in a Cup car," Alexander said.  "Carl Edwards also went straight from Trucks to Cup and it worked."

Roush says that when he first puts a driver behind the wheel of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck, he does not necessarily envision him in the bigger leagues down the road.

"Some of the drivers will be positioned in the Truck Series to be perennial championship contenders," Roush stated.  "Others will clearly be pursuing a path to move through.  But not every young driver who would like to race in the Cup Series would be vertically mobile to the extent that they could move all the way up to the Cup Series." 

And Roush is willing to give his driver the option to flourish in the Truck Series without ever jumping to the Cup Series, no matter how talented that driver might be.

"It's okay with me as long as a young driver has the skills sense, ambition, motivation and willingness to be in the Truck Series.  If he can win championships there and doesn't want the busier NEXTEL Cup schedule, if that doesn't suit his lifestyle, that is okay with me and he doesn't have to move through."

When Roush began Cup racing in 1988, the Truck Series did not exist and he had not yet joined the Busch ranks.  Despite this lack of experience, NASCAR gave him an entry to the Daytona 500 for Mark Martin.  Almost two decades later, Roush has not forgotten that day and what NASCAR did for him.  His continuance in the Truck Series is partially a nod to the sanctioning body for its generosity 19 years ago.

"I felt that I owed something at that time because I hadn't done what the Wood Brothers had done, I hadn't done what Bud Moore had done, I hadn't done what the Petty organization or the other teams who had preceded me had done to build the series," Roush recalled.  "By my contributing and staying in the Truck Series, I feel like I am helping put down some of the foundation that covers everything we do in NASCAR."

That attempt at payback to NASCAR also benefits the race tracks, as well.

"NASCAR needs the Truck Series to attract people to the race tracks when the Cup and Busch folks aren't there," Roush explained. "There needs to be a worthwhile, exciting racing series at all these race tracks with enough frequency and enough interest to generate income for the race tracks.  And I'm glad to do that for NASCAR."

While race tracks need revenue to continue putting on a show for the fans, car owners need sponsorships to keep their doors open.

"Roush Fenway has been able to get sponsors that fit the Truck program that they can grow into a Busch or Cup sponsor someday," Alexander said.  "They're not just growing drivers -- they're growing sponsors.  They're using it as a way show a sponsor who only has enough money for the Truck Series what NASCAR is all about.  Then, in a respect, they can grow their sponsors like they do their drivers, possibly up to the Busch or Cup Series."

Roush's arguably largest and most influential backer has been with him since day one and he is in it for the long haul with them.

"The Truck Series is still an interest of Ford Motor Company and they're in competition with all the domestic manufacturers and at least one of the foreign manufacturers at this time, for representation in the truck market to potential customers," Roush said.  "As long as the Truck Series stays of interest to Ford, I'm sure we'll be there."

SPEED, now in nearly 78 million homes in North America, is the exclusive home of the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, Gatorade Duels at Daytona, NASCAR Nextel Pit Crew Challenge and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The only network delivering  live, at-track programming all season long, SPEED offers the definitive pre- and post-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Series programs - NASCAR RaceDay and NASCAR Victory Lane, as well as other popular NASCAR programs including Trackside Live, Tradin' Paint, NASCAR Performance, NASCAR Live!, Inside Nextel Cup, NCTS Setup,  Go or Go Home and The Chase is On.

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