Roush Condition Critical After Crash

Saturday, April 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) _ Jack Roush, the NASCAR owner who fields four Winston Cup cars, remained hospitalized in critical condition Saturday after the small plane he was piloting crashed in south Alabama.

Roush, whose 60th birthday was Friday, was being treated at UAB Hospital. He had been airlifted after crashing in a neighborhood in Troy, about 50 miles from Montgomery.

Roush arrived at the hospital at about 10 p.m. Friday, spokeswoman Tracy Bischoff said. She said she could not provide the extent of Roush's injuries and said he was being evaluated in the emergency department.

Roush Racing and NASCAR weere to provide details during a news conference Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, site of NASCAR races Saturday and Sunday.

The plane went down in a residential area at about 6 p.m., a dispatcher for the Alabama state troopers said. A newspaper photographer at the scene said the plane crashed into a pond in a gated community.

A resident of the neighborhood, Larry Hicks, pulled Roush from the wreckage, Troy Police spokesman Sgt. Benny Scarbrough told The Birmingham News.

Earlier Friday, Roush was at Talladega Superspeedway, about 45 miles from Birmingham, for qualifying for Sunday's Winston Cup race. All four Roush drivers _ Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch _ qualified for the race. The four drivers were at the hospital late Friday night.

Roush, known as the ``The Cat in the Hat'' for his trademark Panama hat, has been a Winston Cup car owner since 1988, running Fords for Martin that season. Martin has given Roush a pair of second-place finishes in the series points in 1990 and 1994.

During his time in NASCAR's top stock car series, Roush's team has won 53 races, including three of eight this season. He also fields cars in NASCAR's Busch and Craftsman Truck series.

Roush Racing is based at Concord Regional Airport near Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte, N.C. He owns three P-51 Mustangs, and frequently flies one of the World War II fighter planes.

Two Winston Cup drivers were killed in air crashes in the early 1990s.

Alan Kulwicki, the 1992 series champion, was killed in 1993 in the crash of a private plane on the way to a race in Bristol, Tenn. Davey Allison died when he crashed his helicopter on the Talladega Superspeedway property later that year.