- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 24, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Unable to talk because of the tubes in his throat, NASCAR car owner Jack Roush grabbed a notepad and wrote "1-2-3-4." He showed the numbers to driver Mark Martin, indicating he wanted to know the finishing order in the last Winston Cup race.
To Martin, it was a sure sign that Roush is rapidly improving from injuries he suffered in a small plane crash.
"I spent quality time with Jack and he was 100 percent as far as his alertness and the way his thinking process was going," Martin said yesterday by telephone, after visiting his longtime boss in a Birmingham, Ala., hospital.
"His mind was 100 percent, and I don't think there is any head injury to even deal with. That was the biggest fear. Broken bones mend, a head injury is a whole other issue."
Roush, 60, was still in serious condition, four days after the small plane he was piloting Friday night crashed into a lake.
Roush, who was alone on the aircraft, had a head injury and broke his left leg when the plane hit a power line and flipped upside down.
Martin spent Monday visiting with his car owner, who was hooked up to a ventilator but able to communicate by writing notes.
Martin, one of four Winston Cup drivers in the Roush stable, assumed "1-2-3-4." meant Roush wanted to know the finishing order from Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway. But before he could tell him, Roush wrote down the numbers of his cars.
As Martin tried to tell him where the four cars finished and explain that he and teammate Matt Kenseth were involved in a wreck, Roush waved him off and asked about the points standings.
Martin said Roush was pleased to learn his drivers are still thick in the championship hunt. Kenseth is in second place in the standings, Kurt Busch is fourth, Martin is ninth and Jeff Burton is 11th.
"All he wanted to know was about the race," Martin said, adding that Roush even joked about his condition a far different mood than the gloomy atmosphere surrounding the racing team when it first got word of his injuries.
Roush was in a coma when he was brought to the hospital. As Roush has improved, so have the spirits within his organization.
"Things did not look good Friday night. There was some confusion about Jack's state of coma and that was very scary for us," Martin said, measuring his words and pausing to collect himself.
"My biggest prayer for 2002 was that I wouldn't have to bury any of my friends or family, and I am just so grateful that my prayers are coming true so far.
"Jack is going to be back. He said we had been through a lot, and I said, `Yeah, and we're going to go through a lot more, too.' It was just a really, really good visit."
Martin said he would visit Roush again before leaving for this weekend's race in California and planned to bring the avid pilot reading material about planes.
"As inappropriate as it may seem, I think I am going to bring him some airplane stuff to read," he said. "His life is racing and airplanes, and I know Jack, and that's not going to change."

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