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It has been a long dry summer, but finally car owner Jack Roush can see some rainbows

   Jack Roush: back on track (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   If today is, for everyone but Jimmie Johnson, the start of 2010, then Ford's Jack Roush looks to have a leg up on the NASCAR crowd.
   Not only was Roush back in victory lane, for the first time since February, this time with Jamie McMurray and crew chief Donnie Wingo, but his new FR9 engine performed very well, and McMurray wasn't alone among the Roush guys up front in the Talladega 500.
   Teammate Matt Kenseth was right there at the end, and David Ragan too, and Greg Biffle. Only Carl Edwards seemed to have an off-Sunday.
   And Elliott Sadler, in his first run in a Yates-Roush Ford, finished a solid ninth, his best run since Loudon and one of his few top-10s of the year. Maybe the Richard Petty-George Gillett pending move from Dodge to Yates-Roush Fords will be more than just promising.
   So maybe we can all finally stop talking about this championship and let Jimmie Johnson just coast to the head table in Las Vegas, and we can start pondering the new season…which, after all, is only 93 days away – SpeedWeeks at Daytona.
   And maybe Roush and Doug Yates will be putting this new FR9, the unrestricted version, under the hood of some cars at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, this year's final three stops.
   And if today is the start of 2010, fellow car owner Richard Childress – and his move of crew chief Scott Miller to head of competition for the four-team operation – is seeing daylight too, at long last. Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears all found the front.
   Yes, Talladega Superspeedway is its own creature, with its own set of rules, official and unofficial, and its own weirdness (which was on display rather clearly Sunday). And what happens at Talladega, well, sometimes it's just as well it stay in Talladega (certainly Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and a lot of others hope so, after a ragged weekend).
   But there is the decided sense right now that the page has turned, that 2009 is finally really history, and the trends seen
   Yes, while that great wave that Rick Hendrick and his men have been riding for so long finally broke on the rocks, and rather dramatically, it's much too much to discount Gordon, Stewart and Johnson at Texas, this week's stop. On the other hand, Texas has long been a Jack Roush playground…and a win there – Biffle (the feistiest driver Sunday) and crew chief Greg Erwin would be a good pick – would go a ways toward solidifying a Roush return.

   "It's going to give us a great boost, and I hope to win more races before the season is over," Roush said, with McMurray at his side.
   "Texas has been very good to us, and Homestead has been very, very good to us over the years. 
    "Phoenix has been hot and cold.
    "But we hope to win two of the next three races…."
   That would bring full measure of return to what Roush concedes has been a rough season: "This has not been the year we'd hoped for. 
   "Last year Carl won the most races (nine) in the year, and we won a number of races in the chase.  I think we won six races in the chase total. 
    "We've had to average that out this year.  We've had to give some of it back.
    "We didn't lose anybody in a key spot; so it was just our turn to have a lackluster year.
    "I guess I take responsibility for that.  I wasn't visionary enough to give the direction, guidance, and inspiration I needed to.
     "So we've fallen into a little bit of a rut.
     "But we'll climb back out of it.
    "Ford Motor Company has a lot at stake in what we're doing, and we certainly owed them more success than we've been able to give them this year. But we're glad to get that straightened out. 
    "Jamie certainly had a car that was not a fluke. He had speed all day, and he worked with Matt, and worked with other people, and he executed well and wisely on the track, staying out of trouble and not getting wrecked. 
    "So he deserved to win the race.
    "And we deserved to win some other races this year that we've missed.  Maybe some of the ones we won last year we didn't deserve.  You have to average all that out.
    "But I'm very optimistic about next year.  I think the economy is going to get better…and NASCAR is still one of the real success stories in our economy -- based on how it's maintained the spectator and the fan enthusiasm, and how brand loyal they are.
    "So I'm excited about NASCAR, I'm excited about our race team."
    But what next for Jamie McMurray?
    "I wish that I still had my five teams, that I didn't have to get down to four (as new NASCAR rules demand), and that we had a spot for Jamie," Roush says.
   "But it is what it is…and we go forward.
    "We don't have as many races left (together) as I'd like. I'd like to go out the backdoor with Jamie, but I'm not going to be able to.
    "I guess we have to part ways at the end of the year.
    "That’s a great sadness.
     "But I hope we can win another race with Jamie…and I'm certainly happy for this one: The guys did a nice job, the car had speed, they didn't make a mistake all day. 
    "I thought we were going to find another way to lose one of these races….I thought in the closing laps, as cars were going to run out of gas, then we'd be out of gas too.
    "That was my horror. 
    "In fact I had to turn away and get off the pit box. I couldn't stand it. I was going to throw up some place…so I had to go find myself some
    But all's well that ends well, and this story, finally, ended well for Roush and McMurray and Wingo.


   Winner Jamie McMurray and car owner Jack Roush: parting ways in just a few weeks (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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