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Elton Sawyer brings new component to function as NASCAR’s head of competitors


NASCAR’s latest high competitors official has lots in widespread with those that had the function up to now.

His predecessors spent many years within the sport and had been well-known all through the NASCAR storage.

But Elton Sawyer brings one thing totally different to his function as NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition.

He’s a former driver.

Sawyer would not say that makes a big distinction. But having that on his résumé will make followers surprise if it would imply a distinct perspective from the particular person whose job it’s to supervise officiating each within the storage (technical inspection) and in race management (in-race penalties).

“As you deal with all the players in the garage — from the owners to the drivers to the crew chiefs to the crew members — and having a general idea and perspective on what their role within it is, I think it can only be a benefit,” Sawyer stated.

Sawyer replaces Scott Miller, who had spent the previous seven years as the game’s high official centered on the three nationwide collection. Miller, like Robin Pemberton earlier than him, labored as a crew chief within the Cup Series. Miller will assume a contest technique function, specializing in competitors parts of particular and new occasions, such because the Clash, the all-star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (which may have its first Cup occasion since 1996) and the inaugural Chicago avenue race.

The 63-year-old Sawyer spent 20 years as a driver within the Xfinity Series, racing from 1983 to 2002, and gained two races in 392 begins. He additionally made 29 Cup begins in 1995-96. 

Sawyer has spent the previous 20 years working both as a contest government for race groups or with NASCAR.

“I have great memories of my driving career. That was that time, but I also have passion [for the sport],” Saywer stated.

“I look forward to getting up and going to work every day and working with the great group here at [NASCAR] and the industry. … I love going to the racetrack and looking at the things that we’re doing well and the things that we’re not doing well and how we’re not doing well.”

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After his driving profession, Sawyer labored for Red Bull Racing, Evernham Motorsports and road-racing staff Action Express, which was run by former NASCAR competitors director Gary Nelson.

Sawyer, who’s married to former NASCAR driver Patty Moise, joined NASCAR in 2015 because the managing director of the truck collection. For the previous seven years, he has served as a NASCAR vice chairman overseeing race occasion administration, transportation and official coaching and growth.

“[Sawyer] will excel in this role, and we look forward to watching him continue to grow the competition team during this crucial era in our sport’s history,” NASCAR Chief Operating Officer Steve O’Donnell stated in a information launch.

Any particular person within the function would pull from their experiences, Sawyer stated, so he does have the motive force expertise to attract from.

“You can pull from all of those,” Sawyer stated. “I think as a crew chief, they bring that unique perspective from that scene, and they pull from the knowledge that they gained through that period of time.

“As a driver, you do the identical factor. I used to be by no means a crew chief, however I had these interactions with crew chiefs as a driver. So I feel you pull from all of these previous experiences, and I’ll proceed to do this as I transfer ahead.”

Sawyer said he hopes to build on last season, which saw parity with 19 different Cup winners, something that many attribute to the Next Gen car and keeping teams from exposing gray areas in the rule book to gain an advantage.

“I’ve a love and a ardour for the game, it doesn’t matter what the function has been,” Sawyer said. “I’ve simply type of dove within the deep finish and dealing carefully with the powers that be and the expertise that you simply encompass your self with.

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“And the big thing that I’ve learned throughout is I want to make sure when I’m sitting in a room, I’m not the most knowledgeable on that topic — and having people around me that are far more knowledgeable and lean on them for their expertise.”

No matter how a lot driving expertise or crew chief expertise NASCAR’s competitors director would have, the character of the place does not change.

There is one fixed: The particular person in that function is within the highlight.

“It comes with the territory. If things are going well, the credit goes to our series directors and our officials and our race directors and [pit-road officiating] and timing and scoring and all those folks,” Sawyer stated. “They’re those on the bottom in the course of it.

“If it is not going nicely, then it is my fault and I’m the one explaining why it is not going nicely. I’ve nice religion within the staff now we have assembled right here.”

Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!

Thinking Out Loud

There has been some chatter on social media about whether Travis Pastrana should be approved to run the Daytona 500, considering he has run two Xfinity races and two truck races in the past nine years and has never been in a Cup race.

In his two truck races in 2020, he spun in his first one at Kansas (finishing 22nd) and then stayed out of trouble finishing 21st at Las Vegas. Those are both high-speed tracks and should be enough experience for him, combined with his Xfinity experience, to show he can handle the Cup speeds.

Travis Pastrana on his Daytona 500 bid

Travis Pastrana on his Daytona 500 bid

Travis Pastrana discusses the thrill of his followers for his Daytona 500 bid and whether or not he’s nervous in any respect.

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He began fourth and completed tenth within the 2013 Xfinity opener at Daytona. He clearly is aware of the best way to qualify, being on the entrance row for each Daytona races within the collection that 12 months.

As a driver who’s expert at controlling a automotive at excessive speeds by his different types of motorsports, Pastrana has sufficient expertise to race in Cup.

Did he at occasions lose management of the automotive in Xfinity when possibly a extra skilled driver would have identified to not push it? Yes. But many drivers do. Pastrana wasn’t often known as a hazard on the monitor so far as being sluggish or deliberately making a transfer that put one other driver in hurt’s approach. He did sufficient — and continues to do sufficient in varied motion sports activities competitions on each two wheels and 4 wheels — to warrant approval to race in Cup for a celebrity who will convey many eyes to the game.

Social Spotlight

Stat of the Day

Martin Truex Jr. has led extra phases (56) than every other driver within the Cup Series.

They Said It

“My speech shouldn’t be too long because most of the people I have to thank are dead.” —Hershel McGriff, 95, throughout his NASCAR Hall of Fame induction speech

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent many years protecting motorsports, together with the previous 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene journal and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.

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