LIVONIA, Mich. – Jack Roush, Jr. will be celebrating the New Year on January 1 just like everyone else, but the list of “news” surrounding his road racing endeavors is far more reaching than even he imagined just a couple of months ago.
Roush will be racing with a new team, using a new car number, and with a new co-driver in 2009. And let’s not forget that the series itself also has a new name; due to the acquisition by NASCAR, Roush will now be competing in the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge (formerly known as the KONI Challenge Series).
Since October, 2006 Roush has been driving for Rehagen Racing with co-driver Dean Martin and had a tremendous amount of success. With 22 starts together, the pair drove to a Top-10 finish more than 40 percent of the time, including two podium finishes this season.
“Rehagen Racing has been really great to me, and I owe a lot to Dean Martin, Larry Rehagen and the all the crew members that fielded such strong cars for me over the past couple of seasons,” said Roush. “I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to get into a well-established KONI Sports Car Challenge team. As for me leaving, it just seemed that the time was right for me to grow my own racing program and get a fresh start. I wish them the best of luck and know that they will continue to be successful and tough on the racetrack.”
That fresh start will see Roush partner with Mike Canney to create a new, two-car team called Horsepower Ranch. Both drivers competed for Rehagen Racing last season, and both felt that the timing was right to grow their programs by partnering and making the best use of their combined resources.
“I’m excited to be working with Mike on the new team,” said Roush. “He’s a very smart guy and very serious about racing. With the resources we are putting in place, I believe that both our cars will be running up at the front of the field next year.”
Officially owned by Canney, Horsepower Ranch will be based in Mooresville, N.C., and be in a better position to utilize the many resources available around the Piedmont region to prepare the cars for competition. As before, the team will run Ford Mustangs in GS division of the KONI Sports Car Challenge.
Canney was optimistic about the partnership. “I am excited about racing with Jack Roush Jr. in the 2009 Grand-Am Koni Sports Car Challenge, under the Horsepower Ranch team name. We have assembled a very competitive team of people and racing expertise, and are excited about the upcoming season,” he said.
Roush will be paired up with Hugh Plumb as his co-driver in the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline during the 2009 season. Canney will remain in No. 60 Sunset Hills Vineyard Mustang like last year, and will be joined by Matt Plumb as his co-driver.
“I'm really looking forward to having Hugh as my co-driver next year,” said an enthusiastic Roush. “He has a lot of experience in these cars and has many wins on his record. Hugh is also a great driver coach, and I plan on working closely with him to help refine my game as a driver.”
Matt Plumb, a Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype regular, is also looking forward to a successful 2009. “This is an exciting season for me. Mike Canney has shown he is able to be a winning driver and owner as witnessed by his accomplishments last season (capturing the season-finale at Virginia International Raceway), but now to have the resources of ROUSH® available to our team really is a dream combination.”
Just about the only constant for Roush from last year are that sponsors ROUSH® Performance and Valvoline will grace his cars sheet metal again this season.
Bringing a broad expertise to the program is Brad Francis, a member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame whose engineering prowess is only matched by his resume (eight professional championships spanning 30 years of experience, including two NASCAR Winston Cup Championships with legend Dale Earnhardt). Acting as Crew Chief, Francis will elevate the program to achieve the success consistent with the ROUSH® name; a name he knows all too well after competing against and now working for Roush Fenway Racing throughout his many years as an authority in motorsports. Francis will be the crew chief on the No. 61 ROUSH®/Valvoline Mustang.
Working alongside Francis will be Quinn Conda who assumes the crew chief duties on the No. 60 Sunset Hills Vineyard Mustang. They will be joined by crew members Ray Sharp, Craig Young, Vince Arnold, Dave Fredericks, John Sandy, Mike Fletcher, Ken Forsyth and Vaughn Forsyth.
The team will hit the racetrack together for the first time during the January 3-5, 2009 test days at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. They will return to the same track a few weeks later for the January 22-23 running of the Fresh from Florida 200, the 3-hour season-opener for the KONI Sports Car Challenge cars.
Based in Livonia, Mich., “The Art of Performance Engineering” takes place at ROUSH® Performance. To get a look behind the scenes at what goes on at ROUSH® and how the vehicles are designed, manufactured and produced logon to www.ROUSHtv.com. In addition to the array of 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 www.ROUSHperformance.com or telephone toll-free (800) 59-ROUSH.
Returning in 2009 as the primary sponsor of the No. 60 car, Sunset Hills Vineyard is excited about the opportunity to again match a winning team with their award-winning wines. Sunset Hills Vineyard is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, on a 45 acre 1870s-era farm. They recently opened an Amish-restored barn and stone springhouse, and will produce about 50,000 bottles of wine including Chardonnay, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Sunset Hills Vineyard wines are available at the winery, and at festivals held in the Middle Atlantic states. For additional information, please visit www.SunsetHillsVineyard.com.