Jack Roush, shown enjoying a joke with driver Carl Edwards, is celebrating 50 years with Ford this year. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Ford celebrates 50 years of Jack Roush-isms

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Jack Roush is known as one of the most eloquent speakers among NASCAR team owners.

He has a way to turn a phrase or drop a colorful adjective into what can be the most mundane interview.

And Roush – co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing – has been doing that for 50 years under the blue oval banner.

Thanks to the good folks at Ford Racing, here’s some of Jack’s best answers – or as Ford put it, “memorable quotes.”

So for all of you RFR fans, you asked for Jack, you’ve got Jack’s best, right here, right now:

* AFTER GREG BIFFLE WON AT MICHIGAN IN 2004, JACK WAS ASKED HOW HARD IT WAS TO GET FIVE CARS RUNNING WELL.

“I liken myself to the nursery rhyme about the old lady who lives in a shoe, she had so many children she didn’t know what to do. It’s really tough for me to bear the experience that I have, which has been considerable coming up on 40 years of being involved in professional racing. To bring that history to bear and at the same time not get in the way of the guys as they do what is current and what is timely going forward, I try to bring forward a democratic process that brings out the best that everybody has and challenges the things that are not sound that would get them in trouble.”

* THE CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP DEBUTED IN 2004 WHEN NEXTEL WAS OFFICIALLY THE SERIES SPONSOR. JACK PROVIDED HIS THOUGHTS ON THE NEW FORMAT AFTER GREG BIFFLE WON AT MICHIGAN IN 2004.

“This chase for the Nextel Cup points thing for the last 10 races is breaking new ground for all of us. I’m a racing dog. If somebody wants to put together a race and I’ve got a tricycle or a bicycle or an airplane or a locomotive that fits the rules for it, I want to go race it and see how we can do. So to race for 11th, to race for first, those are all races that are worthwhile. The money that goes with that is a necessary component to what we do. It’s like air. Money goes through these things. We spend all that we can get on whatever we think is most important to us at the time.”

* ONE OF THE PERKS TO WINNING AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY IS YOU GET A COWBOY HAT. JACK STARTED LAUGHING WHEN HE WAS ASKED ABOUT HOW HIS FIT AFTER GREG BIFFLE WON THERE IN 2005.

“My head is pretty large sometimes, but I’m gonna see if I can trade mine down a little bit. Mine was a little large for me.”

* NASCAR IMPLEMENTED A NEW IMPOUND RULE FOR 2005. JACK WAS ASKED WHY HIS TEAMS HAD BEEN ABLE TO ADAPT SO WELL TO IT AFTER GREG BIFFLE WON AT MICHIGAN IN JUNE.

“I’m surrounded by really, really smart people with one flaw – they hang around with me and I don’t know why they do that. When they opened up Texas the first time, when we went to Las Vegas the first time – I don’t remember Loudon or Fontana – but most of these new race tracks – when we have a tire change or spoiler change – the guys that I’m blessed with having in my company that I’m accompanied by, they adapt to it faster than their peers. They historically have done that.

* KURT BUSCH SIGNED TO DRIVE FOR ROGER PENSKE IN 2007 WITH A FULL SEASON STILL REMAINING ON HIS ROUSH FENWAY CONTRACT. AFTER BUSCH WON AT RICHMOND IN SEPTEMBER OF 2005, JACK WAS ASKED IF HE WAS CERTAIN THEY WOULD BE TOGETHER IN 2006.

“To answer your question, I’m as certain as I can be without being certain.”

* THE CREW CHIEF POSITION UNDERWENT A CHANGE IN THE EARLY 2000’s WITH ENGINEERS BECOMING THE POPULAR CHOICE TO SIT ON THE PIT BOX. AFTER CARL EDWARDS WON AT ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY TO SWEEP BOTH CUP EVENTS THAT YEAR, JACK WAS ASKED ABOUT BOB OSBORNE’S IMPACT ON THE TEAM.

“For a crew chief to be able to lead a team and lead a driver, you can’t get lost in mania, you can’t get lost in conjecture, you can’t get lost in rumor. You’ve got to take things apart and decide what you know to be true and what confuses you and deal with things analytically that are confusing.”

* ENGINEERING CONTINUED TO TAKE ON A MORE PROMINENT ROLE IN NASCAR THROUGH THE EARLY 2000’S AND AFTER MATT KENSETH WON AT HOMESTEAD IN 2007 HE OFFERED HIS OPINION ON HOW IT WAS CHANGING THE SPORT.

“There’s a revolution occurring. Time was when I started 20 years ago at this, engineering was something that was kept on the back burner and if you absolutely got cornered and couldn’t figure out what to do you would ask the engineer what he thought and the crew chief would make a decision to either laugh or to try it. But today this thing has gotten so complex and there are so many great engineers doing so much predicative and analysis work that you have to have that going for you.”

* THE LAST TIME ROUSH FENWAY RACING FINISHED 1-2-3 IN A NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES RACE WAS AT DOVER IN THE FALL OF 2008. AFTER GREG BIFFLE CAME AWAY VICTORIOUS WITH MATT KENSETH SECOND AND CARL EDWARDS THIRD, JACK WAS ASKED HOW MANY HEART-STOPPING MOMENTS HE HAD OVER THE LAST 25 LAPS.

“This is like a big Bristol. I know the first time I went to Bristol, and today, I hyperventilated. I really need to have a paper bag to put on my head so I can take in some CO2 and not take in all this oxygen that was making me crazy. It’s just hard not to lose your mind when you’ve got as many opportunities as there are with the multiple cars to be involved in something that’s just going to break your heart, just holding your breath, breathing too fast, both at the same time, as you watch it unfold.”

* JACK WON HIS FIRST DAYTONA 500 WITH MATT KENSETH IN 2009 WHEN THE RACE WAS CUT SHORT DUE TO RAIN. AFTERWARDS, JACK WAS ASKED WHAT HE WAS THINKING WHEN NASCAR MADE THE DECISION TO MAKE THE RACE OFFICIAL.

“We’ve been here for more than 20 years trying to do this thing, and I got so conditioned for being frustrated through it that I was almost not believing that it happened. I’ll be black and blue for the next few days just from pinching myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming.”

* TALLADEGA TURNED INTO A FUEL MILEAGE RACE WITH A GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER FINISH IN 2009 AND MANY CARS WERE ON THE EDGE ON WHETHER THEY COULD MAKE IT. AFTER JAMIE MCMURRAY CAME AWAY WITH THE WIN, JACK WAS ASKED WHAT IT WAS LIKE FOR HIM ON THE PIT BOX.

“I was up there to try and console Donnie (Wingo) and finally the cars started running out of gas one after another and we called off the one-to-go twice and I couldn’t stand it. I was gonna throw-up someplace, so I had to go find myself some privacy.”

* FORD CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND HAS HISTORICALLY CLOSED THE NASCAR SEASON SINCE THE EARLY 2000’S. WHEN CARL EDWARDS WON THE FINAL RACE IN 2010 JACK TOLD THE MEDIA HOW HE FELT.

“As far as coming to Ford Championship Weekend and not winning in a Ford with all the support that we’ve had for all the years, I would be embarrassed to go home and not have made a really good showing, so I can sleep better tonight than I did last night based on the way it worked out today.”

Source: Ford Racing.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Longtime Knoxville Raceway promoter, Ralph Capitani, dies

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Photo via @KnoxvilleRaces Twitter
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Knoxville Raceway likely wouldn’t be what it is as one of the country’s most renowned short tracks without the work of Ralph Capitani.

Capitani has died following a battle of cancer (according to Speed Sport), news of which was announced Monday by the track. The longtime promoter at the track was born in 1932.

Capitani, better known as “Cappy,” oversaw a huge rise in the stature and popularity of the track’s premier event – the Knoxville Nationals – after taking the reins as the track’s new race director and promoter in 1978.

Some of the elements Capitani worked to implement were improved facilities, purses, safety standards, car counts and audience, the latter of which saw the Knoxville Nationals eventually make it to TV. He also established the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame.

In his 40th year at Knoxville in 2007, Capitani said the prestige of the Knoxville Nationals remained incredible.

“I think the Knoxville Nationals is the best sprint car race of the year, bar none,” he said in 2007, via InLappedTraffic. “It is the only time you see ALL of the best sprint car drivers competing on the same playing field. It is a United States and Internationally wide event.”

He retired from the track at the end of 2011.

Knoxville Raceway released a statement confirming Capitani’s passing, and thanking him for all he did to put the track and race on the map.

A portion of the statement reads: “A visionary in the sport, Cappy aimed to make sprint car racing at Knoxville Raceway grander, the purses bigger and the grandstands fuller. He achieved them all with a smile on his face and a hearty handshake for every team owner, driver, crew member and fan that ever crossed his path.”

IndyCar’s last big pre-season test occurs this week at Sebring

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Conor Daly. Photo: IndyCar
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Pre-season testing for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season will conclude this week with all eight full-season teams having two days at Sebring International Raceway’s short course on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sebring marks the closest venue to simulate street course conditions; four of the first eight races are street races while only one street race, Toronto, occurs in the second half of the season.

Although this is private testing, this will be a de facto “spring training” on the 1.5-mile road course for teams to see what the others are running all at once. IndyCar’s official spring training, the Prix View test at Phoenix International Raceway’s 1-mile oval, occurred on February 10-11.

The bulk of the field runs tomorrow, with seven of the eight teams set to test – the only exception is Andretti Autosport. Andretti is listed to test on Wednesday.

All but one of the 21 full-season drivers expected for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener on March 12 will test this week. The one not listed is Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing; Bourdais and Ed Jones tested at Sebring in January prior to the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

They’ll be joined by the three drivers making their test debuts, all for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: Robert Wickens, Luis Felipe “Pipo” Derani and Luis Michael Dorrbecker.

Wickens tests tomorrow as part of his planned ride swap with James Hinchcliffe, with Derani and Dorrbecker set to test on Wednesday.

Sebring is usually a hotbed for tests over the IndyCar offseason. This year saw A.J. Foyt Enterprises (in late January with Chevrolet) and Chip Ganassi Racing (in early January with Honda) premiere their new manufacturers and aero kits at Sebring, among other teams that have tested here.

Although the test season has seen an increase in interest this year, the regular season starts in St. Petersburg and returns to NBCSN with Long Beach on April 9.

F1 Paddock Pass: 2017 launch roundup (VIDEO)

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The NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass returns today with a recap of the remaining launches of the 2017 Formula 1 cars that occurred over the weekend.

Williams was first to reveal a rendering of its 2017 car, but it wasn’t a formal launch. Sauber’s online launch properly kicked off proceedings last Monday, before Renault, Force India and Mercedes did actual launches, and then Ferrari (online) and McLaren (in Woking) both launched on Friday.

Official launches then followed for Williams, Red Bull, Haas and Toro Rosso over the weekend. Haas had pictures of its car leak the day before its planned launch as it was a filming day on track.

In this edition of Paddock Pass, NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales recap the remaining cars revealed over the weekend.

Previous Paddock Pass editions from this week are below:

Testing continues this week with days two through four of the first test at Barcelona.

Alonso’s McLaren struggles on first day of F1 tests

MONTMELO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 27: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team McLaren MCL32 on track  during day one of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 27, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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MONTMELO, Spain (AP) Troubled Formula One team McLaren has gotten off to a wretched start in preseason testing.

Fernando Alonso spent most of the first day waiting to get back out of the garage after his car broke down following just one lap at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday.

What the team identified as an “oil system” malfunction to its Honda-made engine kept the two-time world champion out of action until after the lunch break. Back behind the wheel, his 29 total laps was the lowest amount of the 11 drivers who participated.

Alonso also posted the second-slowest time, more than three seconds off the leading pace set by Lewis Hamilton in his Mercedes. Only Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson was slower.

“It’s disappointing,” Alonso said. “You work for three months and at the track on the installation lap something breaks down and you lose the day.”

This misstep is the latest technical hiccup to plague McLaren since it paired up with Honda.

One of F1’s most successful teams with eight constructor titles and 12 driver titles, the British outfit has struggled since it switched from Mercedes to the Japanese automaker before the 2015 season.

After earning just a combined 27 points from Alonso and Jenson Button in the first year with Honda, the team showed some growth last season with 76 points and two fifth-place finishes. But that is still a far cry from the glory days of the Woking-based team whose last race win was in Brazil in 2012.

For his part, Alonso hasn’t won a race since he claimed his 32nd victory back in 2013 at the Spanish Grand Prix while with Ferrari.

“It is fair to say that after the difficulties we had the last three seasons, it’s a nice temptation for the media,” Alonso said.

“From the point of view of the team, we are disappointed and sad to arrive to the first day of testing and not run.

“We are focused on what we have to do to make up the lost time. We know that we have four days for each driver and now one day is gone to prepare for the world championship.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, who has replaced Button, will get his turn for McLaren on Tuesday.

McLaren team chief Eric Boullier acknowledged that the relationship with Honda is far from perfect.

“It is like any marriage, you can have some ups and downs,” Boullier said. “We went through a lot of stress through the last couple of years, but we have a positive and constructive relationship and I don’t expect this to change in the future.”

The opening test will run through Thursday.

The track near Barcelona will host a second round of testing from March 7-10 before the season starts at the Australian GP on March 26.