Veteran NASCAR team owner Jack Roush finally claimed the race win that had eluded him for two decades, as Matt Kenseth was ruled winner of the Daytona 500 during a late rain break.

Roush has been chasing success in the blue riband season-opener for 20 years, but had never bettered second place before the rain arrived over Daytona on Sunday night. On this occasion, however, he could count himself lucky, as Kenseth received a push to the front just over a lap before a caution flew for Aric Almirola's second spin, and then the race was abandoned when yellow turned to red with 48 laps remaining.

Even then, however, Roush did not immediately grasp the significance of Kenseth's yellow-and-black #17 DeWalt Ford sitting in top spot as the field gathered under cover in pit road.

"I was really agonizing over the missed opportunities [with Jamie McMurray and Carl Edwards], rather than starting to count my chickens for the fact that Matt was in the catbird seat and had a chance to do it," he confessed.

"I hadn't done the math. I knew that NASCAR was willing to keep this thing going until midnight, [but] I hadn't thought about that fact that it was going to take three hours, as I was told later, to get the track dry from where it was.

"You look at three hours to get it dry and you've got three hours of predictable rain coming, and it's seven o'clock, the math really tells you that you're finished. I wasn't focused on that. I was thinking that if it did get started, Matt would have to hang on and that was going to be a challenge as David Ragan would be coming, and had a good car.

"I was thinking about 'what if it came back', and helping myself to try to get ready emotionally for what that was going to mean, more than I was to really anticipate the rain-shortened race at something like 7pm when they finally called it.

"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."

As ever, however, Roush found time to praise those closer to the action instead of reflecting on finally breaking his duck in the famous race.

"I'm just pleased to be here with Chip Bolin and with [first year crew chief] Drew [Blickensderfer]," he noted, "I don't know if Drew deserves this though.... I had to wait over 20 years and this is Drew's first race as a crew chief.

"Of course, Matt is at the centre of it. He is as good at this business as anybody has been and, on days when he can't do what he needs to, it's because I haven't given him the tools. Last year, I let him down by not being able to do for him what I needed to.

"Matt should have won last year, but we made some changes. We're a promote-from-within company and we moved Robbie Reiser off his programme and didn't manage to get the organisation of his team exactly right. You only have to be off a little bit in this business but, if you're off just a hair, you just can't quite get it done and that was the year we had with Matt last year. Matt did everything he needed to do, but we just didn't quite get it right for him.

"But, over the winter, Drew came on board and Chip stepped into the role of being the senior engineer - not only for this team, but for the entire group as far as team engineers are concerned - and, boy, they got the magic back. They had the speed in the car. They had depth in the organisation. I need to count my fingers after I shake hands with these guys after a meeting because, generally, there's an extra car or some extra piece of hardware attached to one of them that I wind up losing track of.

"We had great cars. The Ford Fusion did a super job and Matt deserved to win. Like I said, it was my fault that he didn't win last year, but he's gonna win a lot this year - and a championship, I hope."

Kenseth's success was Roush Fenway Racing's fourth success at Daytona, but the first in the 500, and came in a race where two of the team's other contenders could have been in with a chance of breaking the duck had it not been for getting caught up in the incident created as Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Jr squabbled over a 'lucky dog' spot.

"I tend to get all tore up for the bad things that happen," Roush lamented, "Jamie McMurray got caught in one of the early wrecks and had a great car, and Carl Edwards got caught in a wreck and damaged his car. So...."

And it didn't take long for the veteran to begin looking back at the bigger picture, figuring that there was another race to win once Kenseth's car had been moved to the Daytona museum.

"I've never been through an enshrinement, but they're going to enshrine the car, I guess, tomorrow morning or later tonight or something," he said, "I'm sure that will set in at that time.

"It'll be a big deal. We've had other cars in there - we had Paul Newman's Nobody's Fool Mustang, which was the tenth 24-hour race we won here. That really kind of put an exclamation mark at the end of our road racing, so, to have this DeWalt Ford Fusion in Daytona USA for a year is going to be a big deal.

"But we've got to put it behind us because we've got some unfinished business on the west coast that we've got to deal with the next couple of weeks....."



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