Q: How does it feel to be the crew chief for a Daytona 500-winning car?
I have to admit it was pretty cool to win. Not many people get a chance to work on a car that runs in the Daytona 500, much less win the whole thing. But after a little while of enjoying the win, it was back to the grind. We had to focus on our upcoming projects and winning the Daytona 500 just made me want to win the next race even more. There’s no better feeling than that!
Q: How would you describe your job?
The bulk of my job used to focus on maintaining and modifying our cars while also helping to develop new strategies and ideas. But because the cost and logistics of what we do are much more complex than they were even three years ago, my job is now focused on logistics and planning for the team.
We approach every decision from a business-minded angle, so it’s important that we’re fully utilizing our resources to obtain the best possible advantage over the competition.
Q: What's the single biggest challenge to being successful in NASCAR?
The biggest challenge in NASCAR is the time commitment to the job, whether you’re a crew chief, driver, or part of the pit crew. I’m in our facilities every day except the days we are at the track. That ends up being Monday through Wednesday, with half a day on Thursday before we travel to the race.
We’re also on the road every Thursday through Sunday for 38 weeks, with an additional ten test days spread out throughout the year. When things might not be going as well as you’d like, you really have to get in there and focus on what’s going right. This is a demanding job but it can also be very rewarding.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you during the race weekend?
Well, that’s not exactly an easy answer as there are no “typical” days when it comes to racing. On Thursday afternoons we leave the Richard Childress Racing (RCR) facilities and fly to the race location. We have just enough time to check into the hotel and then it’s lights out because we know we have a long couple of days ahead of us.
The team will get to the track early on Friday morning so we can settle into the garage area and get the car ready for inspection. After we go through inspection, the first practice session of the day takes place, with our qualifying runs scheduled at around 3 p.m.
After we’ve qualified for the race on Friday, we have two Saturday practice sessions to test our modifications and make sure everything is running like it should be.
Then it’s on to Sunday, the most exciting (and longest) day of the weekend. It all starts at 6 a.m. when we make any last minute adjustments before our pre-race inspection. The races typically start at around noon and can last up to four hours.
Cars that finish in the top five must go through a post-race inspection to make sure everyone was playing fair. Once the inspection is over, we load up the truck and race to the airport to catch the first flight home. It makes for a long weekend but it’s always a fun one.
Q: As part of the sponsor relationship, is Shell or Pennzoil providing special fuel or motor oil for the race team?
RCR not only has a new sponsor in Shell but a new technical partner as well, with Pennzoil supplying motor oil and lubricants products for all RCR vehicles.
We work with Shell and Pennzoil engineers and scientists to develop and race some of the most technologically advanced motor oils. The fuel we use on the race track must be provided by NASCAR's official fuel supplier.
But off the track, I'm always looking to get the most out of my vehicle so I use Shell. In fact, a lot of the guys on the team drive cars that recommend higher-octane fuel so we use Shell V-Power because it’s a premium fuel with added cleaning power, five times the cleaning agent required by federal government standards, in fact.
We also like that it’s in part a direct result of the technical collaboration between Shell and Ferrari in Formula One.
For more information about the benefits of using Shell V-Power over any other conventional fuel, log on to www.shell.com and type “V-Power” into the search box.