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Jack Roush's Take: Talladega and Daytona are dinosaur tracks, ill-suited to the modern NASCAR stock car


Car owner Jack Roush had two very frightening moments at Talladega when drivers Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth crashed (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Jack Roush watched two of his star drivers, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth, narrowly escape serious injury in dramatic, flipping, fiery crashes in NASCAR's Saturday-Sunday double-header weekend at Talladega Speedway.
   And it all sobered him up, as well as most drivers here.
   "This is the hardest place to race that we go to…and it's fast, and the car's handling is not an issue," Roush said slowly.
   "Most (other) places handling separates the cars. 
   "NASCAR talks about the 'aggressive driving zone' being all the way around the track -- and everybody saw the same thing: you see some drivers that push all day and cause multiple wrecks, with no sanction, and no recourse.
   "And other drivers, when they push and do things that should have been controlled in the earlier stages, then you have something like this occur. 
    "The cars are so close, the drivers push trying to get an advantage. 
    "What happened to Regan Smith was just terrible last year.  He won that race, and they decided that he couldn't pass below the line…even though he was looking at the start-finish line (at the point on the track where the pass occurred)…which was not the way it was (called by NASCAR officials in a similar situation) in the Truck race.
   "But it's NASCAR's deal, and I think everybody here enjoys being part of it. And when they throw a race at Talladega or Daytona, or one of these places that are not our popular places, in terms of the team being able to manage the risk, we come and we race, because we have to.
    "But it certainly is not what we'd like to do if we had some say about how the race track was configured.
    "In a broader sense, I feel a responsibility to do no harm to the spectator public.  But this is a high-risk environment here.
   "The race tracks were built in the Fifties (and Sixties), and they were built to the aero configuration of the cars and the tires of the Fifties (and Sixties), and the cars today are way different. 
    "If they were building tracks from scratch today, they would not be configured like this. 
    "I'm sure neither Daytona or Talladega would be configured as they are.
    "But they're such pillars, and such anchors to the sport, and set such an expectation of the fans, I don't know if they can ever be changed. 
    "Certainly Bill France made it clear he didn't intend to ever change the configuration of the tracks.
   "But when you go to the restrictor plate, you go into a situation where you have to run wide-open to preserve your momentum, and where the advantage of having cars tied together aerodynamically is more of a benefit than anything else you could do to change the performance of your car.
    "So you run stuck together. 
    "And if you get separated, you get stuck together again, almost like a magnetism that pulls them together. 
    "So they're rubbing on one another, they're pushing.

Matt Kenseth crashes during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

"David Ragan won a race (Saturday) in the Nationwide Series, and he got pushed into winning that race. He didn't win the race because he was faster, he didn't win the race because he had a better strategy.  He won the race because he got pushed. 
    "Carl got wrecked today…and he was in a position to win the race because he got pushed -- and he wrecked because he got pushed. 
    "It's just what we do.
     "My heart is in my throat until he gets out of the car. 
     "The cars are safe the way roll-cages are configured. They're heavy. 
    "And the race track is configured that, under normal circumstances, they anticipate keeping the cars out of the stands.
    "And that all worked today.  Everything worked the way it was supposed to. 
     "We had a horrible wreck….It was real exciting at the end…Nobody got hurt. 
    "And I guess there may be some greater interest in watching the next race like this…."

Jack Roush's Matt Kenseth flips and crashes during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Hey Jack. Just because YOU

Hey Jack. Just because YOU can't seem to win at either track you call them ill-suited? Just shut up!!!

Jack, the cars are NOT

Jack, the cars are NOT supposed to be seperated - that's not racing; when handling seperates the cars it puts the car way ahead of the driver in importance. You're also a little ignorant of history - the two tracks (especially Talladega, which was built during the 1960s aero wars) were built not just with the cars of their immediate era in mind.

Drivers are the ones causing these wrecks, and for all the "danger" people talk about here, it's the non-plate tracks that have been killing people the last two decades.

If they were building tracks today, not only would they build them like this, I'm sure some of these track builders would redo some of the intermediates they did build and make them Talladega-style superovals simply because the racing is so much better on the supers.

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Until we can once again feed

Until we can once again feed people we don't like to lions,or gators for sport, The spectacular wreckfests at Daytona and Dega will have to do. The folks who were injured by debris coming over and through the catch fence will probably be offered a generous settlement and if not, will sue the various France family enterprises in the chain of liability.

There were no suits after

There were no suits after 1987's Talladega crash.

I guess Matt Kenseth winning

I guess Matt Kenseth winning the Daytona 500 this year doesn't count?


Jack Roush is entitled to his

Jack Roush is entitled to his opinion, just as much as Rick hendrick is! Would you have been so vile with your "shut up" rant if this had all been said by Hendrick? I don't think so! As for any roush driver being unable to win at either Daytona or Talladega, Mark Martin won at Talladega twice in a Roush Thunderbird, and if I'm not mistaken, his win in 1997 is still the fastest 500 mile race ever ran. At Daytona, Roush drivers won four times, Jeff Burton in 2000, Greg Biffle in 2003, his Rookie year, Jamie McMurray in 2007, and Matt Kenseth just this passed February. I think you are the one who should shut up!

By the way Mike, great article! And will we ever get to see you on "Windtunnel" again?

Jack's right. If NASCAR needs

Jack's right. If NASCAR needs a yellow line rule and restrictor plates at Daytona and Talladega, then maybe, just maybe, those tracks are too fast and too unsafe for anyone to race on. They need to be reconfigured because the last thing that NASCAR needs is a fan to die. Somehow NASCAR has been able to overcome the death's of drivers but there's no way that they could overcome the death of a spectator.

Mike, I'm amazed! You

Mike, I'm amazed! You actually found a picture of Jack Roush smiling!! Seriously, though, I also wonder if those comments condemning Roush for his comments would be as critical if the comments came from Richard Childress or Rick Hendrick. Seems nobody can generate as much negativity from "fans" as Jack Roush when he says what is in essence the truth! One of these days, NASCAR won't be so lucky at 'Dega when we witness, God forbid, another LeMans of June, 1955. Too, as one person said, if that had of been Jimmie Johnson or even Junior who ended up into that fence and Rick Hendrick spoke out, you can bet that France would have ordered the bulldozers to start knocking those banks down tomorrow!

Daytona & Dega are mental

Daytona & Dega are mental tracks - the driver has to anticipate what's going to happen as well as dealing with the moment. Which explains why Roush dislikes those tracks so much: His drivers, by and large, lack the mental ability to do well at either track. Who was it that wrecked Kenseth on Saturday? Oh, that would be David Ragan (aka The Dart With No Feathers). Who caused the late wreck last fall at Dega that took out Harvick, Kenseth, & Dale Jr, among others? Cousin Carl - who was also responsible for his own disaster yesterday. Watch the end of the Busch race at Dega in '07: Same scenario - Bobby Labonte & Tony Stewart coming to the line at the end, Bobby drafts past Tony to take the win. Did either one wreck? Did either one try to push the other below the line? No and no. Oh, but earlier in the same race, Kyle Busch went airborne - because he tried to squeeze in & block another car, and it bit him.
Bottom line: It's not the tracks' configurations nor the restrictor plates nor the yellow line nor even the spectators that cause the problems seen at Daytona & Dega. It's stupid moves by drivers who don't know how to race with their heads as well as with their feet. I, for one, would be delighted if Jack would just keep his teams at home in February, April, July, & October. That would solve a whole lot of problems.

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