Meet Chip Bolin - Crew Chief, No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion Chip Bolin Roush Fenway Racing Crew Chief No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion College: Clemson University Since 1996, when he landed an internship with Andy Petree Racing while attending graduate...
Meet Chip Bolin - Crew Chief, No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion
Roush Fenway Racing
No. 17 DEWALT Ford Fusion
College: Clemson University
Since 1996, when he landed an internship with Andy Petree Racing while attending graduate school at Clemson University, Chip Bolin has been involved with the engineering side of motorsports, specifically in NASCAR. But before then?
"Up until then, the only thing I knew about NASCAR is what car Cale Yarborough drove, and that was about it," said Bolin. "Whenever I interviewed for the intern job at Andy Petree's, I didn't know who Andy Petree or (APR drivers at the time) Harry Gant or Ken Schrader was. It was just something that was in the automotive industry that I could get interested and involved in."
A native of North, S.C., Bolin grew up like most kids in rural South Carolina with an interest in hunting and fishing, but other than he admits that drag racing, mud bogs, and tractor pulls consumed most of his time. Just before attending graduate school at Clemson University in the summer of 1996, Bolin earned an internship and made the one-hour commute to Andy Petree Racing in Hendersonville, N.C. He worked for APR that summer, under the tutelage of Terry Satchel and enjoyed his job so much that he worked it out to where he could continue working there two days a week while going to classes during the semester.
After graduating from Clemson with a degree in mechanical engineering, Bolin was hired in December of 1998 by Roush Racing and together, with new-hire Bob Osborne, started Roush Racing's engineering department. Bolin's first season with Roush was in 1999; the same year that Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser came on board.
"Matt did a five-race deal that year," said Bolin. "He had always built his own shocks, but obviously he couldn't build shocks for both his Busch car and his Cup car, so, since my previous experience with Andy Petree was primarily with shocks, I became the 'shock guy' on the No. 17 team at Roush. Since he was a rookie, that also meant we could test 12 times that season, and when we went to test, I was the engineer that went along and doubled as the shock guy."
In 2000, Bolin wasn't able to travel to all of the races since there were only two engineers at Roush. Still, Bolin attended all of Kenseth's test sessions as the engineer on the No. 17 team. Then in 2001, Roush Racing assigned one engineer per Cup team, and Bolin entered his new role as full-time engineer of the No. 17 team.
Throughout the years Bolin has served at Roush Fenway Racing as engineer of the No. 17 team, the research and development team, and different testing teams. But, in 2007, Bolin's role changed. First in February, when Bolin got his initial crack at being a crew chief in the Daytona 500, when incumbent Robbie Reiser began a four-race suspension.
In only his second race as acting crew chief, Bolin scored his first career victory at California Speedway in the Auto Club 500. Bolin finished out his brief stint as interim crew chief with a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas and a third-place finish at Atlanta.
But, when Reiser stepped down as crew chief of the No. 17 team in November of 2007, Roush didn't have to look far for his replacement. It was apparent to Reiser and Kenseth as to who should be the next leader of the No. 17 team and Bolin was immediately named the new crew chief.
While Bolin, an original member of the No. 17 DEWALT Ford team, will begin his first year as crew chief with Kenseth in '08, he has contributed to their sustained success for years; added Bolin, "I've always enjoyed working on the cars, figuring out chassis setups, and trying to figure out the next best thing."