Jack Roush, one of NASCAR’s most successful owners and a pioneer in bringing engineering technology into the sport with his multi-car Ford teams, has used the R word.
“I expected to have better years than (winless) 2016 and 2015,” Roush said to The (Phoenix) Arizona Republic in advance of Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway. “Had I realized I had those years in front of me, I might have decided to side-step and retire.
“I’m 74. I can’t do what I’m doing today for another 10 years. My window is, the longest I’ve been able to predict what I was going to do in life, has been five years. I’m probably down to a three-year window. I’m looking at how I can be useful.”
Roush, whose partner is Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry, has 135 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories since he began with Mark Martin in 1988. Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton are some of the other drivers he’s brought into Cup. Edwards’ two wins in 2014 are Roush’s most recent.
His drivers combined for only 11 top-five finishes the past two years. Once a five-car powerhouse, Roush is down to two teams, the No. 6 AdvoCare Ford for Trevor Bayne and the No. 17 Fastenal Fusion for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Their best thus far was Bayne’s 10th in the Daytona 500. In the second-tier Xfinity Series, Ryan Reed won the Daytona season-opener for the second time in three years in the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Mustang.
Two years ago, Roush reorganized his team, investing more in technology and people he thought knew how to use it to go fast. Now?
“We’ve restructured our management group to be able to operate with greater independence from me,” said the graduate-level mathematician who employs 6,000 people at a Michigan engineering company. “And without as much of the inspiration for what we do as, maybe, I’ve been in the past.
“The race team, with the partnership we’ve got with John Henry and the Fenway Sports Group, has got plenty of depth. As long as … we’re able to make a viable business out of it, I’m sure the people that will follow me and will manage the affairs after my passing, they will look favorably on the involvement.”