HOMESTEAD, Fla. Jack Roush won his second consecutive Nextel Cup Series championship last Sunday when Kurt Busch finished fifth in the season-ending Ford 400.
A year earlier, he won with Matt Kenseth.
The car owner talked about his success and the future of his operation which includes Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
Question: You won the championship in 2003 under the old point system, and now you've won the first Chase for the Championship. How do you feel about that?
Roush: We'd been in the old system, competing in the old system. Last year was our 17th year and, of course, we've been to the call four times with Mark when he's finished second. I was surprised that we were able to win last year. Our 2003 Taurus was dated. We hadn't had a new set of templates for it since '97, so we had a nose that was behind and tail that was behind and an engine that was revised the last time in '92 and the Dodge and the Chevrolet have had numerous revisions since then, so I didn't think our engine was great and I knew our car wasn't great from an (aerodynamic) point of view. I was surprised that we were able to come up with the durability, the consistency that the No. 17 Dewalt team (Kenseth) was able to do what they needed to do. I fully expected with the new engine program and with the new Ford this year to be a factor this year, since we kept most of our people in place and learned a lot through last year. I had hoped to be able to put all five in the top 10. I'm greedy that way and that certainly is our goal for next year, but then we come back and look at the chances we had to lose this championship in the last 10 the times that Kurt got himself caught in a situation, where he had to spin the car to miss a wreck or he had a wheel fall off (at Homestead). My heart stopped when I saw how close he was to pit wall and crashing into that pit wall head on getting into the pits as the wheel came off. So there were many ways for us to lose this. We can't expect to win two championships in a row with all the hazards that are out there, so this is a feast-or-famine business. It's incredibly hard to do this and I'm just glad to have a chance to have won it twice with Kurt and with Matt and I look forward to repeats for Kurt or Matt and the other guys.
Question: After taking so many years to win a championship, what does it feel like to win two in a row?
Roush: Well, we're two for 18. That's 11 percent. That's not very high. I did a little better than that before I started stock-car racing, and I expected to. But, we are on our way. That's two out of 18, and it's not zero for 18. With what Kurt's been able to do now, what Jimmy Fennig's been able to do. Jimmy built a new house. I've been waiting for the (retirement) letter. He says he was going to go the way of the dodo bird. Anyway, we've got a long time with Kurt here. I'm sure he's going to go at least 20, 30 years longer. I hope that I'll be around to see most of that, and we expect to win lots of championships with Kurt.
Question: What about your other drivers?
Roush: Of course, Greg's still got his championship in front of him, Mark has got one more shot at it, Matt Kenseth's got his teeth whetted on it, and Carl Edwards, what can you say about Carl? So, we're real excited to go compete for a championship every year, and with the way NASCAR has got the thing for the 10-race deal, if you can salt the field with two or three strong horses like we had this year, you've got a better chance to win a championship than you really did under the old scenario. The thing that I'm sure will be talked about and lamented over is the fact that Jimmie Johnson had this organized it was a cakewalk for him if it had been under the old situation. But, putting them all together 50 points apart is like throwing them under a blanket. And we just want to have all of our guys in there, if we can.
Question: Mark's been with you since the start. He will retire after next year, so do you still have a hole in your heart for him and his championship hopes?
Roush: Mark is a true champion, and Mark and I were holding hands, saying it would be fine for either one of us or for us together not to win a championship. We thought we'd been doing the right thing, and we were happy with the success we had, and it was enough. But, Mark, based on the way he raced the (International Race of Champions) cars and all the championships he had there and the Busch cars and all the races he won there, he deserves a championship in NASCAR's top series. It's one of the things I feel bad about when I go to bed every night that with another owner he probably would've had a couple of them by now, and I've held him back and that really bothers me. But we'll do our best effort to put him in a car that can win next year and then we'll go look for trucks (for him to race) and whatever's left.
Car owner Jack Roush won his second
consecutive points title Sunday with driver Kurt Busch. Roush went his first 16 years in NASCAR's premier series without a points champ. A look at his stable of drivers and their histories:
Kurt Busch: 2004 champ; 2000 runner-up on Craftsman Truck Series
Matt Kenseth: 2003 champ; finished eighth in 2004 points race; 1998 runner-up on Busch Series; finished third in 1999 Busch Series standings
Mark martin: Finished fourth in 2004 Chase; four-time runner-up on premier series in storied career
Greg Biffle: 2002 Busch Series champ; 2001 Busch rookie of the year; 2000 Craftsman Truck Series champion
Jeff Burton: Finished in top five of the Nextel Cup points standings four times in his career
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