The ROUSH® Performance team leaves Mid-Ohio with both a win for the No. 61 Mustang, driven by Jack Roush Jr. and Billy Johnson, and another top ten finish for the No. 51, driven by Shelby Blackstock and Jade Buford. Currently, the No. 61 is in 5th for the championship, and the No. 51 is in 9th. This makes for the 2nd win in 2012 by the No. 61 and the 3rd top by the No. 51.
The race started with the No. 61 and No. 51 head-to-tail, with the No.61 qualifying 8th and the 51 10th. "There was some hard fighting for position early on in the race between myself and some BMWs, but I knew that the guys around me were all talented and experienced racers. As a result, I didn't have to be overly worried about people wrecking me while we were battling. Unfortunately, not every race starts out with that same level of confidence in who you're racing against, as we've seen earlier this year," says Jack Roush Jr.
Jack brought the car in for a driver change at about 50 minutes in, after moving up to 6th position and gaining on the leaders. "I know that when I am able to bring the car into the pits in a good position, in all likelihood, Billy will once again work his magic and bring it home high on the leaderboard."
During the second half of the race, Billy Johnson was able to keep the No. 61 ahead of cars that had fresher tires and less concern for fuel conservation. It's one thing to be able to drive fast, but to do so while having to save fuel and tires is on a whole other level of skill as a driver.
The No. 51 also had a great run this past weekend. Shelby Blackstock started the race, and gained 3 positions before coming to the pits in 7th. Jade brought the car across the finish line in 9th, but only after overcoming significant adversity, with a pit lane incident, and stop-and-go penalty.
The past weekend's win has closed the championship points gap for the No. 61 from 35 points down to 17. "It won't be easy to claim the championship this year, but honestly, it never is. You had better believe that we are going to fight with all that we have to climb back on top," says Jack Roush Jr.
"This was a close race, an intense race," says Brad Francis, ROUSH Performance team manager. "If it hadn’t been for the supurb team work, setting the stage by Jeff Campey, and fantastic driving of Jack and Billy to put us on top it wouldn’t be the take home moment that we have! A special thanks to Kris Walker, our team engineer, for his magic calculations on fuel miles."
Sponsors of the No. 61 Mustang include ROUSH Performance, Gary Yeomans Ford Lincoln, USANA Health Sciences, Kooks Custom Headers, BMRS, Mechanix Wear, Strategic Brand Solutions, PWR, GoPro, and Performance Friction. The No. 51 Mustang is sponsored by Starstruck and ViON.
The 2012 Continental Tire Series race at Mid-Ohio will be televised on Sun. June 17th at 12:00pm ET on SPEED Channel. The team's next race is Road America on Fri. June 22nd at 6:15pm CT.
The Mid-Ohio race debuted the No. 61's Distractor Face competition, where fans can win placement of a photo of their face on the back of the No. 61 race car for an event. Click here to learn more about the ROUSH Distractor Face.