DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2000) -- As NASCAR continues to move into the future, the manner in which drivers, crew chiefs, crews and car owners come together is changing. The age of the multi-car team has arrived, and getting the right person for the right job continues to be an essential ingredient in the success of any racing program. NASCAR 2000, in an effort to examine the future of all aspects of racing, takes a closer look at what it takes to build a successful race team as motorsports enters the new millennium.
NASCAR team owner Bill Davis, reluctant for many years to switch to the multi-car approach, now is reaping the benefits of a program loaded with talent, headlined by NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ward Burton and crew chief Tommy Baldwin. The addition of driver Dave Blaney and crew chief Gil Martin also have paid immediate dividends.
"When we went to Daytona earlier this year, it was just amazing," Davis said. "We had so much data at the end of the day to review and work with because we had run twice as many laps."Davis has seen quite a bit of change already in his NASCAR career, and Burton's win earlier this season moved him into 14th place in overall NASCAR career winnings, surpassing the $10 million mark.
"NASCAR has changed a ton for us over the last few years," said Davis, who started his racing program in a backyard shop in Batesville, Ark., nearly 10 years ago. "Last week, I made some comments about how much our team has grown in everything we do -- from the number of people and the financial structure to the specialized people that we have on staff.The success of any team often is determined by a phrase that is hard to define--team chemistry. Putting the right people together is every bit as important as the right setup for the car.
"At one point in time, I'll be honest, I thought team chemistry was probably overrated," Davis said. "But it is not. We all have access to the same equipment, and for the most part, the same funding. What makes the difference is the people and their attitudes and how they get along."For Davis and his team, keeping Baldwin as crew chief has been key to the team's success this season. Keeping a good team together is the desire of any successful team owner.
"I think the team chemistry has been clearly demonstrated by the No. 22 team in the last three years," Davis added. "We really have a lot of the same people, the same equipment and the same facilities in place. The biggest change we've made is we brought in Tommy. He and Ward have developed the relationship it takes to win races and consistently run up front. Absolutely, their chemistry and the chemistry Tommy brings to the team keeps everybody working in the same direction with a clear understanding of what they need to do."NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division driver Mike Stefanik, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series 1999 Rookie of the Year, believes finding that elusive combination is often difficult to do.
"You look for a team with common goals and realistic expectations," said Stefanik, a two-time NASCAR double winner (NASCAR Touring's Busch North Series and Featherlite Modified Series in 1997-98). "Sometimes, however, you have to be willing to take a chance. Maybe you think what you bring to a situation will improve it. It's not always a Cinderella story. It's racing and it's a business. You have Cinderella stories and you have tenacity stories and you have to be prepared for both."Team owner Richard Childress also sees the importance of building better teams with interchangeable parts.
"I think more teams will be setting up NASCAR Busch Series teams to get a solid, championship-caliber team built," said Childress, whose stable includes seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt and NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Mike Skinner, as well as NASCAR Busch Series drivers Kevin Harvick and Mike Dillon. "If a NASCAR Winston Cup team needs to pull up a driver or crew member, they will be ready. The more sponsors that get into the NASCAR Busch Series, the better the competition will be at that level."
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