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Roush relishes racing and airplanes

June 15, 2008|From the Associated Press

Jack Roush has two big loves in his life, besides family.

The longtime NASCAR team owner obviously relishes being part of racing and has fielded cars and won races and championships in numerous series, including Sprint Cup. But his other major interest is airplanes.

A source of pride for years has been his P-51 Mustang, which Roush flies any chance he gets. Even hitting power lines and crashing an experimental aircraft, nearly losing his life, in 2002 hasn't diminished Roush's enthusiasm for flying.

That's why the 66-year-old has been looking forward to his visit to Michigan International Speedway with more than the usual excitement of a race weekend.

Roush was scheduled to take part in a vintage airplane flyover over this weekend's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.

"The only other flyover I've done over a sporting event was at Nashville five years ago when they had the big Mustang convention there," Roush said. "It was not a race, but a Mustang convention that involved some activities on the race track.

"But, this will be a great honor for me to celebrate the military and to remember all the veterans and flyover at the conclusion of the national anthem, in my hometown, as it were. It's going to be fun to do that."

Roush, who lives in nearby Livonia, Mich., has always been interested in flying and planes.

"As a youngster I built balsa wood model airplanes, first with rubber bands for power and then later with little nitro-burning engines for power," he said. "I designed my own airplanes and built them from kits just as I grew into to being an adolescent. I was very active in pursuing that interest.

"And then, of course, in the '80s when I was road racing real hard, I had a chance -- or excuse or the reason -- to have a corporate airplane to fly around, as I do today. And then that really got me started with personal aviation, as far as being a pilot."


Racing this week near Ford's world headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., David Gilliland figures it would be a good weekend for embattled Yates Racing to show how much progress it has made this season.

The Yates team, a longtime Ford entry, is still looking for major sponsorship for both Gilliland and teammate Travis Kvapil, but the team continues to work hard to showcase what it can offer potential sponsors.

Gilliland, with one top-10 finish, goes into today's Lifelock 400 at the Michigan track 23rd in the standings, coming off two straight 16th-place runs. Kvapil has three top-10s in the first 14 races and is 18th in the points.

"We've had some bad luck the last couple of weeks, it seemed like, that was just out of our control happening," Gilliland said. "But, overall, I think both Yates teams are probably ahead of what most people expected.

"We want to win races and we haven't done that yet, so that's still our main goal. But, overall, we're very, very happy with the progress of Yates Racing."

So, is the team any closer to finding full-time sponsors?

"No, not really," Gilliland said. "We're working hard at it and getting closer and closer every day. The best thing now is we're selling what we've shown we can do on the race track instead of in January we were selling what we thought we were able to do on the race track, and that's gone a long ways for us."


Despite many bad breaks this season, two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart isn't feeling sorry for himself. Instead, he's focused on having a good race today and helping out some folks in his hometown of Columbus, Ind.

After finishing 35th last Sunday at Pocono and falling to 12th in the points, the 1989 graduate of Columbus North High School found some perspective when he went home and found much of his town under water, with people displaced and many homes damaged or destroyed.

Stewart, known for his charitable work, quickly decided he needed to do something to help. The result: he will donate his share of today's race purse to the American Red Cross in Columbus, with the money earmarked for flood assistance.

"I went down on Monday and visited the guys at the city garage who have been working long hours trying to get the streets and everything cleaned up," Stewart said. "I just went there and told all those guys, 'Thanks.' Most of them have been working 24-hour shifts getting everything cleaned up.

"We went by the junior high I used to go to, and that's where the Red Cross has their shelter put up, and I went in there to try to lift everybody's spirits up and just visit with everybody. Everybody is doing a really good job."


Jack Roush's team has earned 10 of his 105 Cup victories at Michigan, including a win last June by Carl Edwards. Roush also has three NASCAR Nationwide Series wins and three truck wins on the 2-mile Michigan oval.

"We were able to win on the 100th anniversary of Ford Motor Company, I had my 200th win there with Mark Martin, and on average we have won more there in all three series than we have at any other track," Roush said.

"I keep waiting for the bubble to burst," he added. "I go to Michigan and think we've had way more than our share of good fortune here, when do we start giving it back? I sure hope it's not this weekend."

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