NASCAR & Auto Racing

Waltrip: Roush 'intellectual espionage' was simply a mistake

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Michael Waltrip said the Roush Fenway Racing sway bar that wound up with his team got there completely by mistake and that it’s not nearly as big of a deal as Jack Roush says it is.

“I promise you that no one went to their tool box and swiped it,” Waltrip said Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. “This is not ‘intellectual espionage.’ ”

That’s the terminology Roush used when describing the incident Friday. Roush said the sway bar included proprietary characteristics and said a vendor contacted Roush Fenway Racing after another team asked the vendor if it would produce “Roush sway bar ends” for that other team.

“I liken a sway bar to a pen,” Waltrip said. “Some of them are expensive and some of them are not so expensive, but they do the same thing and that’s write. It’s not the pen that makes them write, it’s the person pushing it.

“A car going fast is not about the sway bar, it’s about the team that puts the sway bar into action and what they do to make all of that come together.”

Waltrip said “stuff gets slung everywhere” in the garage and doesn’t know specifically how his team wound up with the bar in its possession. Roush said paint had been sandblasted off the bar, but Waltrip said he didn’t know anything about that.

“I heard it was painted blue and when we figured out it wasn’t ours then it was set off to the side,” Waltrip said.

“...We didn’t know anything about having it until January when they called and said, “you have our sway bar.’ We said, ‘We do?’ We told them we would find it and give it back to them and that’s what we did.

“There were no threats. ...It’s a piece of metal – there are no gears, there’s no fluid running through it. ... Understand how simple this part is – you can go to NAPA and get one.”

NAPA, of course, is the primary sponsor of Waltrip’s No. 55 Toyotas.