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Mark Martin, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards: On Jack Roush

 Jack Roush (C) was just released from the hospital after nearly two weeks recovering from that plane crash in Wisconsin. And he might be here for Sunday's Michigan 400, Greg Biffle hints (Photo: Autostock)


By Mike Mulhern

  Mark Martin talked with old buddy Jack Roush this week, and they talked about Roush's July 27th plane crash, and Martin – a pilot himself – says he's been in similar situations to what Roush faced when attempting to land at the Oshkosh, Wis., air show.
   "I talked to Jack Sunday evening, and he's doing okay," Martin, also a pilot, said. "He obviously wanted to tell me the story about how the accident happened.
   "And it was pretty much what I suspected immediately when I heard where and when it had happened.
    "There was a conflict with (air) traffic.
    "He told me the whole story, and we talked for a long time.
     "It was really good to talk to him. The bond between him and me is really, really strong, because of the things that we went through in the beginning of Roush Racing....as hard as they were. So many of those years, as hard as they were, they were also the kinds of things that bond people for life.
    "So it was good to talk to him. We talked about that...We talked about building and trials and everything we faced through those years, and had a great visit."
    The accident: "I don't want to get into that much, but when there's an air show -- when there's a thing like 'Fun-'n-Sun' down at Lakeland (Fla.), which I had gone into before – they've got aircraft that are landing just nose to tail. And they might be landing on other runways, on taxiways, all this stuff simultaneously.
    "It's not something you deal with under normal circumstances.
     "Under normal circumstances, they're way spread apart.
    "When you deal with that, and the volume at Oshkosh (something like 10,000 planes) or 'Fun-'n-Sun' in Lakeland, I had an idea of what was going on.
    "And Jack got in a situation where he thought 'How am I going to get out of this without hitting somebody?' because of all the things that were going on...which is exactly what I thought would happen, because he's in a jet and there are some very small aircraft at different speeds...
   "And he just got in a situation where he was uncertain about how he was going to make it all work. He got slow, and tried to get slowed down, and got a little too slow, and whatever.
    "It was one of those situations where it was a bad deal.
     "I really feel bad.
     "I'm glad he's released from the hospital.
     "I know that's really tough on him.
     "But I know he's a tough guy, but he can deal with the injuries -- probably better than he can deal with being in the hospital.
     "So I'm glad he's out, and I look forward to seeing him back at the race track real soon."
    A medical update on Roush is expected this weekend. Here's some new visuals of Roush's crash:  http://bit.ly/9w2Ssn


     Car owner Jack Roush (L), celebrating victory with Greg Biffle (R) (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Greg Biffle, who broke the drought for Roush and Ford two weeks ago at Pocono and who is one of Sunday's favorites here, hints that Roush himself may be at this track for the 400:
    "I heard a rumor that he may try to make it.
    "But of course that's going to be how he's feeling and how he's doing. 
     "He just came home, I believe, yesterday (Thursday) or the day before (Wednesday), so I'm not really sure. 
    "You know Jack 'the iron horse' – he'll want to be here for sure.
    "But whether he's feeling up to it or not, we'll just have to wait and see."
    Biffle was among the fastest in Friday practice here, and on race setup, not qualifying setup. Qualifying is set for 3:40 p.m. ET Friday.
    This track, just a few miles down the road from Detroit, makes this event more important than some on the NASCAR tour.
    And it's also just down the road from Roush's own headquarters in Lavonia.
   "It's meant a lot to do well here at Michigan for a couple of reasons," Biffle says.
    "One - Ford has a big presence here.
    "And then Roush Industries. 
     "A lot of people don't know a lot about Roush Industries versus Roush Fenway Racing.  Jack has a huge engineering company here and does a lot of work with all the automotive companies, and a lot of different things. 
    "And of course Roush Performance is here too."
   There's more too,  because of Roush's crash, Biffle says: "Everybody has really dug in and worked extra hard, knowing Jack's not here. 
    "Everybody is wanting to kind of pick up a little bit of the pieces...to make Jack proud."
   However Roush himself has been on the post-race conference calls, Biffle says. "He's only missed one Monday meeting so far, and that's pretty incredible if you think about it."


    Carl Edwards (L), a favorite in Sunday's Michigan 400, has the best finishing record in the sport over the past five weeks (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    Carl Edwards, Biffle's teammate, and also one of Sunday's favorites, at the track where he made his Cup tour debut six years ago, says after following Roush through the past two weeks  "I have a whole new level of respect for his commitment.
    "I've talked to him on the phone three or four times, and I've visited him. And we talked about his injuries and his predicament maybe three percent of the conversation.  The rest of it is how we've got to go out and win these races, and what he can do to help.  
    "For a guy sitting in a hospital, with everything he's gone through, for him to just be focused on the same things and to stay on task and not waver, that's amazing.  
    "That tells me a lot about Jack Roush.  
   "He is as committed as anyone I've ever seen to what he's doing.  He understands every part of the business and has his hand in it just enough to lead everyone.  
    "Sometimes people's circumstances change, and you can see where their real focus lies. But Jack has not changed:  He's gung-ho.  
    "That makes me feel a little bit more confident in our team, to see that, and realize how entrenched he is in this."
    And Edwards and Biffle too.
   In fact Edwards, over the past five weeks, has the best finishing average of anyone on the Sprint Cup tour, a 4.5.
   That has Edwards saying the NASCAR title is in sight.
   "It's wild how much things have changed in a short amount of time," Edwards says. "I don't want to jinx it, but it feels like it's headed in the right direction.  
    "We're fast.  
    "We've got four races until the chase, and if we can perform at the level we've performed the last four races, we can make the chase. And if we can get any better, we can win the championship.  
    "Two or three months ago I was hopeful we'd be in this position, but I did not think we would be. So it feels good.  
    "It's been a fun ride the last month or so."


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  Mark Martin (L) and long-time friend Jack Roush (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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