Jack Roush Jr. Sweeps Pirelli World Challenge in St. Petersburg, Florida
Driving his familiar number 60 Red Roush Performance Boss 302 Mustang, Jack Roush Jr. was untouchable, winning back-to-back races on the street course in St. Petersburg, Florida, capturing two wins in Round 3 and 4 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series.
Roush’s weekend got off to a solid start when he qualified on the pole for the first race, held on Friday, March 11. Roush topped teammate Nate Stacy, who made his first street-course start, along with the field including KTM and Ginetta sports cars, Maseratis, Aston Martins, a Lotus GT4 and a pair of Z/28 Camaros.
Roush got away on green, but had to fight off a strong challenge from Lawson Aschenbach in his Blackdog Chevy Camaro. Aschenbach posed a challenge for the first half of the race, but then faded, allowing Roush to stretch his lead. While Roush paced the field, the battle behind was intense. Stacy passed Charles Espenlub, who was driving a Maserati to gain the fourth position and then he picked up one more spot to score a podium finish. Roush, meanwhile, led the field in a wire-to-wire win.
“Street races are really treacherous. But they are a lot of fun,” said Roush Jr. “The shape of the street makes you follow lines that you wouldn’t normally on a race track. Dean Martin and his team really know how to setup the Mustang for the street courses. Dean was always good in the street races. I would put them against anyone. We talked about setup and strategy on the course. We wanted to finish the race well, too. I knew Lawson [Aschenbach] would put on the pressure at the start and I felt it all race. I knew people would be coming at the end of the race like Brett in the X-Bow and Nate. I just went as fast as I could without putting the car at risk.”
While Race 1 began with a rolling start, Race 2 kicked off with a standing start. Nate Stacy got the quick jump and jetted to the lead from is Fourth-place spot. Roush, despite starting second, slipped to fourth as the pack barreled towards Turn 1.
Stacy poured on the power and got off to a commanding lead, which was erased with the caution flew on the 6th lap. When the green flew Stacy, in the number 14 Boss 302 Mustang was back on his game, but his day came to an end halfway through the race, when he hit an inside curb marker in Turn 12 causing something in the steering to fail and the Mustang to crash.
After another restart, Roush dialed in his focus and catapulted to the lead, passing Lawson Sandberg and his Z/28 Camaro. Sandberg put up a late-race fight, but it was too late and Roush held on for his second win to sweep the weekend.
“I didn’t get a good start at all. I got a lot of wheel spin and I dropped to fourth,” said Roush Jr. “Then I tried to get the tires up to temperature and be smart in every turn. I was on my marks as best as possible. It was a battle the whole time and it was a much tougher race. The late restart was such a rush that I don’t remember that much of it. I have a lot of respect with the guys I race with in the GTS class. I didn’t know that Brett (Sandberg) was on the outside in the final corner. I don’t think I touched him. I was just focused on the front and getting to the checkered flag. This is kind of bittersweet today because I thought Nate [Stacy] was going to run away. I really felt bad for him when I saw him hit the wall. He really has a lot of talent and I’m sure we are going to see a lot of great results from him in the future.”
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