It’s time for Jack Roush to make a decision.
The Roush Fenway Racing co-owner triggered a firestorm of speculation recently, telling a reporter for ESPN The Magazine that a “proprietary part” had gone missing from one of his teams, and been recovered in the possession of a Toyota team. Roush declined to name the team, but said he was “considering legal action, or getting NASCAR involved.”
Sirius Speedway first reported the story on Monday, contacting Roush Fenway Racing to request an interview with Roush. That request was denied, but a team spokesman indicated that a statement on the matter would be released later that day. The following day -- with no further information provided – we contacted the team again, only to be told, “We are not commenting on this.“
Roush’s refusal to disclose the details of this story – including the identity of the team found in possession of the “proprietary part” – does a great disservice to everyone in the Toyota camp. By refusing to name the team in question, Roush tars Michael Waltrip, Bill Davis, Joe Gibbs, Hall Of Fame and Red Bull Racing with the same broad brush. And by refusing to provide the full details of his allegation, he casts a shadow of suspicion over teams that do not deserve to be second-guessed.
Jack Roush is one of the most respected team owners in NASCAR. His accomplishments – in stock cars, drag racing and road racing alike – make him a living legend in the world of motorsports. But his longstanding vendetta against Toyota, and his apparent willingness to say anything when it comes to the Japanese automaker, have begun to diminish that lofty standing.
This is the same Jack Roush who once bragged of paying an employee in Japanese yen, after spotting the man driving a Toyota to work one day. The same Roush who lobbied openly for Toyota’s exclusion from NASCAR, saying the Japanese automaker would spend the sport into oblivion. The same Roush who now accuses someone in the Toyota camp of industrial espionage (if not outright theft), while refusing to provide any of the pertinent details. Amazingly, the man who complains bitterly about being singled-out by NASCAR for sanctions or penalties has no problem slandering the entire Toyota contingent over the alleged actions of just one team.
Jack, you’re heading down an ugly road right now, and it’s time for you to either step up, or step back. If – as you claim -- someone in the Toyota camp is guilty of wrongdoing, there are a number of appropriate ways for you to proceed.
You can take legal action against the team in question.
You can go to NASCAR, requesting that they sanction the involved parties. NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said yesterday that he hasn’t heard from you, and knows nothing of this story.
You can take your case to the media and expose the involved team; providing all the pertinent details, chapter and verse, to avoid slandering any innocent, uninvolved parties.
Or, perhaps, you could have said nothing to begin with. It’s your call.
But make no mstake about it, there is no place in NASCAR for the kind of blanket accusation you have leveled against the Toyota teams. It is petty, unnecessary, and patently unfair. You chose to take this story to the media, knowing full well what would follow. Having made that choice, you now have a moral obligation to accuse only those involved, instead of casting a cloud over five car owners and 10 different race teams.
You’re better than that, Jack. And they deserve better, as well.