The NASCAR Xfinity Series has seen multiple drivers split seat time in a car, and even chase the owner’s championship. Normally it’s done with a rotation of Monster Energy Cup Series drivers and a veteran crew chief. JR Motorsports is choosing a different path for the drivers of the No. 8. While they have used a couple of Cup drivers like Chase Elliott and Ryan Preece, most of the schedule is covered by developing drivers like Jeb Burton, Ryan Truex, and Zane Smith, in the car for the Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday.
Taylor Moyer is on the pit box calling the shots for the first time and brings some solid credentials on his resume. Obviously, the link between Hendrick Motorsports and JR Motorsports is strong and the team likes to promote from within the organization.
“I did a quick ten-year tenure at Hendrick, started at the bottom in the parts department, changed tires, worked as an engineer in the chassis shop, engineer in the body shop, then a data acquisition kid on the 88 and the 48,” says Moyer about his experience. “Then I was a race engineer on the 5 for three years then, the 24 last year. So I’ve done it all aside from working in the engine shop which I think helps me a ton, just in having really good overall car knowledge and a lot of different experience.”
Several aspects come into play when you look at having a different driver in the car every week or two but Moyer looks at it with an interesting perspective as a rookie crew chief.
“The trick to working with multiple (drivers) is you have to be as much of a psychologist as you do an engineer or leader,” says Moyer. “You gotta figure out what each of these guys is trying to convey to you in their feedback and then apply it to the car.
“The younger driver thing, I was kind of blessed last year when I was at Hendrick Motorsports and the 24 car to work with William Byron very very very closely, kind of his guy. So I worked a ton with a rookie in a new series which isn’t any dissimilar to me than Zane in this series. It’s just a little less technical stuff as far as the car’s concerned.”
The No. 8 team has been very successful this year no matter which driver is in the car. While the owner’s points championship is an accomplishment and will take care of itself with the good runs, the crew chief looks at it differently.
“We’re sitting tenth in owner points and honestly we give up a lot of points purposely because we don’t stage race,” says Moyer. “I feel like I owe it to each of these guys to win a race with each of them and get them noticed. They’re all very good talents so I’m out there to win, I’m not out there for stage points. If I was, we could probably be a lot higher.”
Moyer also deferred the praise for himself in regards to the current high level of performance from the team.
“The success really comes from the team around me,” explains Moyer. “I have a really really solid set of two engineers so I don’t have to worry about ensuring the race car. I got a great car chief, he runs the mechanics. I try to manage people the way I like to be managed which is not micro managing. I just trust my guys. Everybody’s allowed to make a mistake or two as long as they don’t repeat the mistake and everybody’s open and honest with everything.”
This weekend his focus is on Zane Smith, who is running the No. 8 Canadamark Diamond/BN3TH Chevrolet in the Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. When it comes to setting up the car for an individual driver, several factors come into play from two sides – both the crew chief and the driver.
“I trust my head engineer Josh (Berry) to give me the fastest race car every week and we take the fastest race car we think we’re gonna put out,” says Moyer about preparing cars for individual drivers. “And then as we learn about these drivers, we just apply the little idiosyncrasies. There’s just little things each guy does a little differently.”
Zane Smith prefers it that way knowing that he has limited experience. He looks up to teammate Justin Allgaier and knows that’s the level he wants to attain.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned this year is how to drive like the fastest guy here, which is normally Justin,” says Smith about his teammate at JR Motorsports. “I’ve had to figure out how to drive like him every weekend and I feel like I’m in the right direction in getting better at that.”
The duo of Moyer and Smith look to continue building and have their eyes set on a victory in the Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, Saturday, June 29th at 3:30 pm ET with coverage on NBCSN.