By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 21, 2002
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Winston Cup team owner Jack Roush remained in critical but stable condition at a Birmingham hospital Saturday, one day after the small plane he was piloting crashed in south Alabama.
Roush, who turned 60 Friday, sustained a closed head injury, minor chest and internal injuries and fractured legs. He was airlifted to University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital from Troy, Ala., where the accident occurred.
Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing, said doctors were encouraged that Roush "is able to follow commands and respond to the commands that he is given." A Roush Racing spokeswoman said he was being prepared for surgery on his left leg, NASCAR.com reported.
Roush owns Winston Cup teams driven by Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. He was celebrating his birthday with friends by flying different aircraft when the twin-engine Air Cam, owned by a friend, crashed into a pond in a residential neighborhood.
Roush, who had no passengers, was pulled from the wreckage and resuscitated by Larry Hicks, a resident and former Marine who witnessed the crash.
Roush, an avid pilot, owns P-51s and flies frequently.
All four Roush drivers will compete today in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
"What we need to be doing is praying for Jack and taking care of our business," said Martin, who has driven for Roush since 1988, the owner's first season in Winston Cup. "Our greatest concern is for Jack's health, but in the meantime we will take care of business because the guy's got eyes in the back of his head. We'd be in trouble if we didn't."
The mood was subdued in the Winston Cup garage Saturday.
"Jack Roush is an innovator and leader in the NASCAR industry," NASCAR chairman Bill France said in a statement. "His tireless efforts have helped the sport achieve the success it enjoys today. All members of the NASCAR family are praying for his recovery."