Colin Braun Gunning For First Series Win at Michigan, where Sponsor, Manufacturer and Owner Share Backyard
49 and holding …
That’s been the situation for Jack Roush the past year … but the milestone he’s staring in the face isn’t one that sends people spiraling into denial and midlife crisis.
Roush, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, is vying for his 50th win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in Saturday’s race at Michigan International Speedway (2 p.m. ET on SPEED™; NCWTS Setup with Krista Voda at 1:30 p.m. ET), and no other track on the NASCAR circuit holds more promise for the team.
Roush Fenway Racing owns four Truck Series and 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at Michigan, more than any other venue in either series, and went to Victory Lane in last June’s Truck race with Erik Darnell, the team’s 49th and most recent.
Now it’s Colin Braun’s turn to ink his name in the history books by delivering the organization’s 50th win in the No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford. Braun, still looking for his first NASCAR win, is riding a wave of momentum after tying a career-best series finish of third last week at Texas. Not only would a Braun checkered flag give Roush 50 series victories, winning at Michigan would be a hometown hit, as the team’s manufacturer, sponsor and truck owner’s headquarters are centrally located around the track.
“It would be awesome to get that 50th Truck Series win for Jack Roush this weekend at Michigan,” said Braun, 2008 Truck Series Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year who will make his 35th series start Saturday. “Not only is Michigan Jack’s backyard, it’s Ford’s and our sponsor Con-way Freight’s backyards, as well. Just to get a win for them at Michigan, not to mention it being the 50th, would be pretty awesome.”
“Fifty wins in the Truck Series would really be keeping in concert with what our goal is: to set a lot of standards, to set a lot of high marks for ourselves, and to enjoy the celebration of those milestones with Ford Motor Company,” Roush said. “It would be great, since Ford has been such the leader in Trucks on the public highways, to come back and get 50 in the Truck Series.”
Roush and Ford Motor Company have been partners since day one and their history is legendary at the two-mile oval nestled in the Irish Hills.
“The relationship with Roush Fenway and Ford is strong and historically, whether it’s been the Truck Series, Nationwide or Cup Series, Jack (Roush) has put a lot of emphasis on his teams to run well (at Michigan) because it is our backyard as well as his own,” said Patrick DiMarco, Ford NASCAR Brand Manager. “It would be great to have him win his 50th Truck race.”
Roush, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship car owner who won the 2000 Truck Series championship with Greg Biffle, is the only high-profile Cup owner still fielding entries in the Truck Series, after names such as Gibbs, Hendrick and Childress pulled out, and his presence in the Truck Series is integral to Ford.
“Having a name like Jack Roush in the Truck Series is pretty significant,” DiMarco said. “There are an enormous amount of truck owners and when you walk through the infield, trucks are the predominant vehicle NASCAR fans are driving. When I started in NASCAR, I was working in the Truck Series and you had Hendrick, Childress, DEI and Roush and they went at it - all the big names - and Jack stuck around, and that is important to us that he’s still there and going for his 50th win.”
A portion of Roush’s NASCAR accomplishments can been attributed to the gold standard he has set in the driver developmental program. Braun is just the latest in a long line of Roush Fenway drivers who have gone on to find success in the form of victories and championships. Roush Fenway teams have scored one Truck Series, two NASCAR Nationwide and two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, with most of the team’s drivers rising through the Truck Series ranks.
“One of the things that really helps bring drivers through his program is the fact they are such a big family,” said Braun, who finished sixth at Michigan last June. “Everyone wants to see everyone else do well. Everyone has the same goals and there is no question that goes unanswered. I feel like Jack Roush has made it clear to the older drivers that they need to help out the young rookies and I think that’s a big part of it.”
In addition to a driver developmental path, Roush views the Truck Series as a teaching tool for younger drivers and the lessons imparted extend beyond maneuvering the truck around a speedway.
“It’s (Truck Series) the first stop for a rookie driver coming into NASCAR, coming into stock car racing,” Roush explained. “Historically, since the onset of the Truck Series more than 10 years ago, we’ve enjoyed taking our rookies there first and getting them started and improving their race craft - improving judgments on the race track, establishing their code, which is the thing that keeps them out of harm’s way. It establishes expectations among the competitors of what they (rookie drivers) will and won’t do on the race track. It’s important that a driver have a good code, a defensible and admirable code, so he can really have the racing room he needs when it comes time and he’s able to close the deal to win his races and compete for championships.”
But despite all this lessons and the pressure you’d expect a typical 20-year-old kid to feel when the burden of a potential milestone rests on his shoulders, Braun is as cool as a cucumber.
“I don’t really feel any pressure to get that win,” Braun stated. “I think that’s one of the coolest things about driving for Jack and this team. They just put good trucks under me and we always have fast vehicles and good pit stops. We’ve got to keep putting ourselves in the position to win a race here. I know it will happen.”