LIVONIA, Mich. – When Jack Roush Jr. began his professional racing career in the KONI Challenge he knew that he was facing an uphill battle. Moving straight from a nimble go-kart into a heavy, full-bodied Ford Mustang would certainly be a challenge in itself, but adding to his steep learning curve is the issue that Roush had never before driven any of the racetracks on the circuit.
Now, with three KONI Challenge races under his five-point harness (Virginia International Raceway in 2006, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Iowa Speedway this season), Roush is feeling much more comfortable in the car, and the Rehagen Racing team has been making adjustments that are tuning the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang to be more suited towards his style of driving.
"The team has been setting up the car to be a bit tighter than when I first began driving and this has really helped me adjust quicker to the Mustang," said Roush, a native of Livonia, Mich. "This setup is a lot more like the go-kart I used to race and I think that it is even helping Dean (Martin, the co-driver on the No. 59 ROUSH Performance Mustang) as well."
Heading into the May 18-20 U.S. Sports Car Invitational delivered by Luggage Express at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca the team currently sits ninth in the KONI Challenge team point standings after being hit by another competitor during the last event at Iowa Speedway and forced to retire prematurely. They are hoping that the new car setup will help them to improve on that position.
"Our crew at Rehagen Racing has been trending towards making the car tighter and that really has made a difference in making Jack more comfortable and it has helped both of us be quicker," Martin explained. "Before, we setup the car to be fairly loose, but being on the edge just didn’t suit Jack’s driving style and it really wasn’t the best setup for a lot of the racetracks either. Now that we have migrated towards a tighter, better balanced car we see the speeds improving."
As for Roush’s learning curve, Martin said that he already sees a big difference from when he first started.
"Jack has progressed really well. He is getting faster and feeling much more comfortable. Now that he has had more seat time and race experience he has a better feel for what to expect and how the car and other competitors will react," he said.
The U.S. Sports Car Invitational begins on Friday with two practice sessions for the GS class that Roush and Martin compete in. Qualifying is on Saturday, with the green flag for the 400 kilometer (112-lap) race dropping on Sunday at 9:15 a.m. (PDT). Though this event will not be televised, the complete results and live timing and scoring can be found online at .
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, located in Monterey, Calif., is the first natural road course that the KONI Challenge cars will compete on this season. The previous races have all taken place at stadium road courses which are constructed through the infield of oval racetracks. The 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the most legendary road courses in the world, and includes the famous Turn 8 "Corkscrew."
The No. 59 Rehagen Ford Mustang, based out of Westland, Mich., carries sponsorship from ROUSH Performance, ROUSH Brakes, RacerBargains.com and Piloti. Last season this was the highest-finishing Mustang in the series.
Based in Livonia, Mich., "The Art of Performance Engineering" takes place at ROUSH Performance. In addition to the Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3 Ford Mustang and F-150 styling, handling and performance upgrades, a complete line of performance parts and crate engines are offered. For more information see your local ROUSH dealer, visit or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.