This is Jack Roush Jr. here, and I wanted to give you a snapshot of what’s going on with our Grand-Am road racing program. In case you missed it, last week’s Continental Tire Series race at New Jersey Motorsports Park was a good one for the #61 ROUSH Performance Mustang. We won the race and lead the most laps. Between my co-driver Billy Johnson and I, we lead 35 of the 87 total laps of the race. Billy and I have had some good history at this track. I’ve personally felt comfortable at this track from the first race that we did there two years ago, as well as last year where we lead all but four race laps and also won the race.
Like last year, heat was a definitely a huge factor. The ambient temperature was 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but inside the car it was much hotter. Cabin temperatures ranged from 120 to 150 degrees, not to mention the fact that we’re wearing thick firesuits and helmets. As bad as this could have been, I felt that we handled the heat very well both in the car and on pit road. Did I mention that we also had a lightning fast pit stop, as always?
For the week leading up the race, we knew that it was going to be hot, really hot. So Billy and I made sure to hydrate. I also have to give credit to our nutritional sponsor USANA Health Sciences. Their high quality supplements and nutrition bars helped us perform at our best despite the environmental extremes that we were in.
One thing that really helped us at this event was the set-up that we showed up with. Our crew chief Jeff Campey, studied his set-up notes, taking into account the characteristics of the tracks that we raced at and what works well on the car at each of them. He then made an educated decision at what should run well, and he nailed it. The car was fast right out of the gate and other than subtle changes to manage tire temperatures, we really didn’t make any changes to the car. As a result, Billy and I were able to focus fully on improving our driving.
I also have to hand it to Ford for building a great platform in the Mustang for us to race with. As you may know, the cars that we race in our series are based on production chassis with very few modifications from the vehicles that you can buy from the dealership. This is very much showroom-stock racing. One of the keys to success that we’ve had is the powertrain. The #61 ROUSH Performance Mustang has the Ford production 5.0L engine. Not only does it deliver the power that we need, but it also has the gas mileage that helps us with our fuel pit strategy to put us where we want to be at the end of the race.
You can see the Continental Tire Series race at New Jersey on Saturday July 30th at 3:00pm on SPEED.Google+