Family patriarch proud of performance in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A year after celebrating a Daytona 500 win, Jack Roush was back in Daytona International Speedway’s famous Victory Circle on Friday -- this time celebrating a win by son Jack Roush Jr. in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season-opener.
It’s the second consecutive win for Roush Jr. in this race -- a prelude to the weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona - - steering one of his father’s famously prepared Roush Performance Mustangs with co-driver Billy Johnson in the series’ GS class.
"It's so great for him to have a chance to be here considering how busy his schedule is."
-- Jack Roush Jr., on his father's presence
“My dad sat me down before the race and gave me some advice,” said a grinning Roush Jr., holding a half-empty bottle of champagne in one hand and carrying his large trophy in the other. “He told me it’s important to be aggressive, but as the main part of my job I have to turn the car over in good position.
“That was one of my goals, obviously. But also I wanted to turn it over in good health and good position.”
It was a rare trackside appearance for family patriarch Roush, whose teams used to dominate the GT production class portion of the Rolex 24 in the 1980s and 90s, and whose former driver Matt Kenseth is the defending Daytona 500 winner.
Comparatively speaking, Friday was an understated celebration. After shaking hands with his namesake in victory lane Roush went straight to the motor coach to “babysit” his four grandchildren.
He said this week during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway that while he is proud of his son’s racing progress, he predicts Roush Jr. will ultimately have a more traditional role in the family company.
“Well, he’ll be 40 years old the second of July this year and I just hope he can race as long as he wants to and be healthy,’’ Roush said. “He’s got four young children -- I’ve got four grandchildren that he’s delivered to me -- I look more forward to his being a family man and carrying forward the traditions of the business than I do him being able to win a championship.’’
“Although,’’ he added, “He came second in the championship in 2011.’’
Roush Jr., who has co-driven with Johnson to eight wins in the series since 2009, was obviously pleased to have his father on hand.
“It’s so great for him to have a chance to be here considering how busy his schedule is,’’ Roush Jr. said.
“It is a big deal given what he’s accomplished here and to have this victory.’’
“We’re not out here to be mid-pack,’’ he added, sounding a lot like his father. “There’s a lot of internal pressure to win and perform. Bringing home a win is exactly what we shoot for.’’
The Continental Tire Series race was noteworthy for another reason as Lara Tallman was a co-driver on the winning ST-class Nissan team, making her the first woman to score a class victory in a race car since Claudia Huertgen in the GT2 class in 1997 Rolex 24.
“Really honored to be one of the few women to win here,’’ said Tallman, 45, a mother of two from Salt Lake City. “I hope I can inspire more to get out there and give it a try, so to all the young girls out there, get going and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”