Dodge Motorsports interview: Joey Meier

Dodge Motorsports press release

Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge and Kurt Busch, Penske Racing Dodge lead the pack
Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge and Kurt Busch, Penske Racing Dodge lead the pack

Photo by: Ashley Dickerson, ASP Inc.

JOEY MEIER (Spotter, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T)

ARE THE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES AT TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES AS A SPOTTER? “I don’t know if it’s the biggest challenge, it’s a more unique challenge for sure. Those two restrictor plate tracks you spot totally different. Every other place, you know, we do a lot more than clear, inside, outside, but with Talladega and Daytona we’re trying to paint a bigger picture and that’s what makes it different. At a normal track, we might paint a picture 20 feet in front or 20 feet behind, it’s not that they happen faster, it’s that the result of what goes on at Talladega starts so much sooner. Last week, we were in Charlotte. Very rarely would I tell Brad 20 car lengths behind him what’s going on. It’s irrelevant; where at Daytona and Talladega it is relevant to know because those two cars that have just hooked up 20 car lengths back, they’re going to start making a run so the picture is a much longer, much broader picture. And the unique aspect of it is that you’re dealing with two race cars now. I use the word pod. Everybody has their own little unique world. The reason I say pod is the minute I say it you, sitting here talking with me, knew what I meant without even thinking about it. It’s a pod, it’s two cars together, they’re acting as one so that’s unique about Daytona and Talladega. Now of course NASCAR has changed the rules. They’re hoping to break up the pod. We’re still going to have 'em together. They might not be together for as long. We’re going to be doing more swapping, but anytime you give the drivers a chance to go faster, they’re going to go faster. You go faster with pods. Two cars together go faster than one so they’re going to stay together as long as they can. The unique thing is that we’re talking to two drivers at once. Most of the teams now are communicating on our frequency or we’re on their frequency, which the only tracks you do that are Daytona and Talladega. So, it’s not that it’s a harder job, you definitely switch gears. When we go truck racing on Saturday, that’s the plate racing that we’re so much used to with the packs and the drafting, what’s going on with single trucks at a time, but Sunday’s race, you do it to switch gears to do a different format of spotting for sure.”

WHEN TWO CARS ARE TOGETHER, IS THE LEAD CAR THE SPOTTER? “The unique thing about Talladega and Daytona as well is how our radio communication is set up where Brad can not only listen to me, but he’ll actually be able to talk and listen to the driver that he’s pushing. So in a perfect scenario what you’ve done is you’ve gone ahead and arranged who you’re going to try to talk to. You’ve got your radios all set up. We probably, ironically, won’t work with our teammate this week; the reason being is because we’re both in the Chase. You don’t want to wreck. You don’t want to wreck your teammate. You don’t want your teammate wrecking you. So you’re going to try to work with somebody away from your teammate. I believe this week we might work with the 36. Tommy Baldwin Racing and Paul (Wolfe, crew chief) have a good history. Dave Blaney will be in the car; Dave and Kevin Harvick worked very well together at the previous race (at Talladega). So this week when Brad is pushing Dave, Dave will be telling Brad what’s going on in front of him. I will also be telling Brad what’s going on behind us or around us or if we need to pit. So, he’ll actually be listening to two separate communications at the same time which is very unique only for Daytona and Talladega.”

ARE WE GETTING TO THE POINT WHERE THERE IS JUST TOO MUCH GOING ON? “Well, the communication now has actually made it better. Before, when there was only one spotter and he was doing what I would normally do, I would stand next to Dave Blaney’s spotter and every time I wanted him to slow down or check up, I would have to go tell him. Then, he would have to tell Dave so the length was much longer. Now with Dave having the ability to talk directly to Brad, it actually happens quicker and its actually a little bit safer and you see less wrecks through the evolution of the pod racing. Is there too much going on? There’s always too much going on at a plate race. You put 43 cars in a matter of a 50-yard span and everybody is passing everybody, so it’s a lot going on to begin with. The communication has actually made it a safer system now.”

WITH THE IMPROVED COMMUNICATION, ARE THERE AS MANY DEALS BEING MADE NOW AS THERE WERE IN THE PAST? “Your deal is made sooner. We come down 20 laps to the end of the race and say the 36 and the 2 car have been drafting together, that deal has already been made. Now what they have the ability to do quicker is if Brad is pushing Dave and we’re in line, Brad can say go so the communication is quicker. It’s not any different, it just happens sooner and quicker.”

ARE YOU MENTALLY TIRED AFTER A PLATE RACE AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA? “You know, it’s interesting, some people do find themselves exhausted after a race. I also fly, so my mentality is that it’s relaxing. All I’m doing is basically verbally communicating what my eyes are seeing. I’m not saying I’m not thinking about things, but I’m not doing taxing mental calculations. I’m just verbally communicating what I’m seeing. There’s not a lot of mental work. We do a lot of talking for sure. You’ll go through several sets of batteries. I could go plate racing seven days a week and I don’t think I’d notice a difference. The races that seem to get more exhausting for me are the ones that have a lot of yellows, a lot of red flags and you’re not staying involved with the race. Road courses are a good example to where you don’t do anything. Basically, you’re tired from doing nothing.”

DO YOU HAVE TWO SPOTTERS AT TALLDEGA AND DAYTONA? “We do not at Talladega or Daytona. We chose not to use two spotters simply because now you’ve added another guy in the loop of communicating. The reason you use two spotters is for the blind spots for the drivers. Now the mirrors have gotten better, the side mirrors have gotten better, so what we’ve done is eliminated one guy that can talk over somebody. I know that if I’m talking, there’s only going to be three people on my radio: the driver, crew chief or me. I don’t have to concern myself with a handoff spot. How I got started spotting was that I was the second guy and we had handoff spots – on in Turn 2 and off in Turn 4. If you’re in the middle of talking, it’s just difficult to stop talking when something is going on and handoff. So then you have that transition of where you’re spotting, he’s spotting and you end up talking over each other. And like I tell Brad, my job is to not tell him where he can go, it’s to tell him where he can’t go. We err on the other side. If it’s tight, then he’s not clear. Until I can positively bet my life on he’s clear, then I wouldn’t clear him and with the mirrors on his left side, he can take care of himself there a little better. He does a good job with that.”

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About this article
Series NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Brad Keselowski , Dave Blaney , Tommy Baldwin
Teams Team Penske , Tommy Baldwin Racing
Tags dodge, keselowski, meier, penske