|3,000 Cup starts for the Cat In the Hat|
“I was not aware of it until somebody brought it to my attention, but it’s a milestone for sure,” said the longtime NASCAR team owner. “I remember the first year we went to Daytona. Our first race was the Daytona 500 and we didn’t have a garage to start with. They finally gave us one, down at the very end when somebody who had more standing didn’t come.
“We didn’t win at all,” recalled Roush of his first season at NASCAR’s top level. “I think we had one or two poles that first year, and I wasn’t sure we were going to win in the second year until the fall race at Rockingham, when Mark (Martin) won. The sponsors I had were teetering, but that win gave them the green to go forward with us another year.”
Roush said economic instability was a regular part of the program in the early years, adding, “All of the sponsors I had were one-year programs. That cemented a relationship with Folgers, and then Valvoline quickly wanted in, so we were on our way. Little by little, we gained the experience and I had enough good people around to make the important judgments that led us to becoming a viable multiple-car team.”
Roush called his motorsports career, “really a blessing. If you include our road racing wins and other NASCAR series, we’re at about 450 victories now. Running the Trucks, Nationwide and Cup – all three – and having the success we’ve had has done a lot to bolster our confidence.”
Roush recalled that at first, racing was a hobby, not a business.
“When I started drag racing, it was a recreational; an after-work activity fueled by youthful enthusiasm. Then as we realized how big the challenges were, and I recognized that I needed to generate cash flow and an income stream to siphon off enough money to pay for the equipment that my race cars needed. That has been the trademark of what we’ve done for more than 25 years. We’ve had to look at a series, look at a race car and the rules, and then consider the opportunity to make a viable business out of it by selling the technology and selling the success to other people who would like to bask in it.
“The fact we’ve been able to survive for 25 years in Cup racing is more important to me than 300 wins. That’s a more significant accomplishment.”