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Jack Roush! Back at the track, on pit road, pumping up his teams.....and he talks about his injuries and the crash

  Jack's Back! (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   BROOKLYN, Mich.
   Jack Roush made an unexpected appearance on pit road at Michigan International Speedway Friday afternoon, to spark on his NASCAR teams.
   "I feel great....It's warm and humid out here....the heat is a shock to me.
    "But this is great medicine -- I've been in an air conditioned room for two weeks," Roush said.
   Roush suffered facial injuries when he crashed July 27th while landing at an air show in Wisconsin. He was just released from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
    And Roush confirmed that he lost vision in his left eye in the crash.
    "I had a damaged left cheek, I had a broken jaw, and I had a compression fracture in my back -- and I've got a back brace for the compression fracture," Roush explained.
    "I have hardware (a lot of medical screws) in my cheek.
     "I still have packing in my nose, because they say its biodegradable and it will come out on its own. I'm still uncomfortable with the fact I can't breathe clearly through my nose.
     "Everything will come back....
     "...and I was blessed to have great vision in two eyes and now I've got great vision in one."
    Roush joked that he won't be reading spark plugs with his left eye now. "But I always use my right eye for that, because that's the dominant eye,"  he said.
    So just what happened?
    "I filed my NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) report today (Friday)," Roush said. "On a trip arrival into Oshkosh, Wisconsin, I was put in conflict with the flight plan of another airplane close to the ground, and I was unable to address the conflict and keep the airplane flying.  
    "I 'ground-looped' the airplane.
    "And I have a compression fracture in my back; I have some damage in my left eye; and I've got damage to my left cheek.
     "I'll recover everything but the sight in my left eye."  

     Flying again?
    "I think it's very likely that I'll be able to fly," Roush said. "I've got to get recovered. I have to go through my recovery.
    "Wiley Post was a one-eyed pilot, and there's no restriction.
     "Maybe if you're an airline pilot (commercial) you can't have one eye, but there's not a reason why I can't fly with one eye."
    Roush certainly concedes he's come out of his second major crash rather well, all things considered.
    "I feel very lucky. I've had several bites at the apple here," Roush said.
    Roush, though clearly still a little slow on his feet, was quick to praise his NASCAR teams, which have rallied in the past five weeks, Greg Biffle breaking a long losing streak by winning Pocono two weeks ago.
   "I'm really proud at the way the organization has rallied," Roush said.
   "We were gaining in our performance -- moving from not where I wanted to be, in an area of the top-10, into the top-five.
    "Robbie Reiser (shop manager) and (chief engineer) Chris Andrews and (crew chiefs) Greg Erwin and Bob Osborne and Jimmy Fennig and Donnie Wingo have done a great job keeping the cars going.
    "Roush Fenway Racing will out-live me; it will out-live anybody else that is with the company today. We've got the plans in place for that. This was a little test case.
     "How can you do without Jack?
     "Well, it's bigger than me. It's bigger than anybody.
     "The organization has been very strong, and we're peaking at the right time of the year: We're approaching the chase (which kicks off Sept. 19th at Loudon, N.H.) with four races, including this one, left. And if we don't have a mechanical error and miss a wreck, we have a good chance to put three cars (with Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth) in the chase.
    "With the way the cars are running right now, I think we're in a position to be better for the end of the year than we have been all year.
    "My point was the momentum for that -- the things that were in place -- were not impacted by the fact that I had a problem.  
    "I wasn't on my way to a race track...It wasn't something silly I was doing, erratically, or something else that you would say was risky or foolish.
    "It just happened."
    Roush, as a racer, is no stranger to crashes: "I survived two car wrecks too, both of them in racing.
    "I've been extraordinarily lucky to survive...and I feel in some ways unworthy.
     "I'm not sure I've done enough yet for the chances that I've had. Maybe that's recognized, and they're just giving me more time."


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    Jack Roush on pit road Friday at Michigan International Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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