By admin | April 3, 2008
Roush and Toyota continue nasty feud
By Richard Allen
Jack Roush has never been shy about his dislike of Toyota and that companyâ€™s entry into NASCAR. Of late, the feud between the two has turned quite nasty and personal.
After Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards won in Las Vegas his car failed the post race inspection when it was discovered that a cap supposed to cover an oil tank was not in place. RFR said a bolt had failed and caused the cap to come loose. Toyotaâ€™s Lee White implied that the cover had been allowed to come loose on purpose because the removal of the cap would add extra down force to the car and allow it to stick better in the turns.
Roush has retaliated and levied charges of his own against a Toyota team, charges of out right theft. Last year in Dover, Delaware a sway bar belonging to Roush Fenway Racing turned up missing. Roush says the proprietary part was longer than the average sway bar and thus did not fit in the storage area where the bars are normally kept, so it was stored under the team’s tool box.The part remained at large until January when, as one story has it, a parts vendor called Roush Fenway to say another team had shown them a very similar sway bar. As it turns out, the other team was Michael Waltrip Racing.
Michael Waltrip has claimed that a mistake was made and his team had no intention of stealing anything. â€œIt was a mistake,â€ Waltrip said. â€œLook at the back of these toolboxes. There are sway bars, thereâ€™s jack handles, and it wound up in our possession. We called them and said, â€˜We want to give this back.â€™ â€
The story becomes murkier when, according to at least one report, the part in question had been sandblasted to remove Roush Fenwayâ€™s identification markings. And, according to Roush, his organization was alerted to the whereabouts of the missing sway bar by the previously mentioned vendor who had allegedly been contacted about the possibility of duplicating the piece.
Some have merely laughed off Roushâ€™s claims of theft. Jeff Gordon called the situation â€œhilariousâ€ and jokingly said the FBI should investigate.
Roush does not seem to see it as a joking matter. He has even threatened legal action.
Who knows whether the part was actually stolen or simply picked up by mistake? However, there is intriguing evidence to consider on both sides.
First, consider that Roush does seem to have a personal vendetta against Toyota and particularly against his former employee, Lee White. Roush did say he would hand Toyota their head on a platter when the auto maker announced they were entering the Sprint Cup Series.
But also consider that Michael Waltrip Racing is the team caught with illegal additives in their fuel before the 2007 Daytona 500. So, they have worked outside the rule book before. And, it seems more than likely that mechanics and engineers working for a NASCAR team would know the difference between a jack handle and a sway bar.
Whatever actually happened to that sway bar may never be known. One thing that is known, however, is that Jack Roush and Toyota do not get along and there does not seem to be any resolution to that situation coming anytime soon.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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