Rookie Crew Chief Ryan Fugle Pairs with Rookie Driver Michael Annett Mooresville, N.C. (October 30, 2009) -- While Germain Racing General Manager Mike Hillman Sr. has been noted as Crew Chief of the No. 15 Nationwide Series entry since April,...
Rookie Crew Chief Ryan Fugle Pairs with Rookie Driver Michael Annett
Mooresville, N.C. (October 30, 2009) -- While Germain Racing General Manager Mike Hillman Sr. has been noted as Crew Chief of the No. 15 Nationwide Series entry since April, Ryan "Rudy" Fugle now resumes the leadership role as Crew Chief of the No. 15 Pilot Travel Centers Toyota Camry driven by rookie driver Michael Annett.
Fugle is no stranger to the Nationwide Series, the Germain Racing organization or the No. 15 Nationwide Series team. Fugle has three years of experience working in NASCAR's second ranked series. He first entered the series as an engineer and shock specialist for Robert Yates Racing's Nationwide Series team until the organization ended its Nationwide Series program in 2007, which brought Fugle to Germain Racing along with many of his former RYR teammates to work on the No. 15 car.
Fugle played a pivotal role in Germain Racing's start in the Nationwide Series last year. As an original crew member of the No. 15, Fugle put forth the effort and determination needed to transition to the role of Crew Chief. Fugle still fulfills his duties as shock specialist and engineer of the No. 15, his previous role before being named Crew Chief before Dover.
"The transition began over the summer as Mike Sr. has been slowly turning the reins over to me. Between Mike Sr., Randy Goss (research and development specialist for Germain Racing) and the crew guys on the No. 15 Camry, the transition has been pretty smooth," said Fugle, "I'm still the shock builder for our team, and we've all worked together so long and so well that while I'm in the trailer building shocks, the guys working on the car keep going. I still do all of my engineer duties as well -- I figure my own fuel mileage, take my own race notes."
"Rudy has really been making the calls longer than we've given him credit for. He's been doing the same job for a while, but sometimes it's easier when you don't have to take all the heat," said Hillman Sr.
The young Crew Chief credits Germain Racing's open structure to his rapid rise in success. Team leaders like Hillman Sr. and Goss have openly shared with him their volumes of experience and have helped him turn his ideas about chassis setup and geometry into race cars that are running fast, qualifying well and getting results that have his rookie driver joining the top-10 in Nationwide Series driver standings after this weekend's race in Memphis.
On his new opportunity to be Crew Chief for the No. 15 Camry for Germain Racing and Annett, Fugle said, "It's a great opportunity that I've been working to achieve. To be able to crew chief and call races, to be able to do it for an organization like Germain Racing and to work with people as highly regarded as Randy Goss and Mike Hillman Sr. and an up and coming driver, Michael Annett, is a great opportunity. Michael and I are a lot alike. We're both so-called 'rookies' at this, but we see eye to eye on a lot of things. We have confidence in each other, and we've gotten to where we can almost finish each other's sentences. It's great to gel and have the chemistry that we have."
"Our steady improvement throughout the summer is a direct effect of the great relationship Rudy and I have as Crew Chief and driver. We relate to each other both on and off the track and have a good level of understanding on what needs to be done to make the cars work for us," said Annett, "Rudy is constantly thinking of ways we can improve our cars, and I'm always concentrating on how to improve my performance on the track. Even though we're a rookie combination, we've proved throughout this season that we've got what it takes to succeed."
"Rudy and Michael have a great line of communication; they have the same style. They both have a bright future ahead of them," said Hillman Sr.
Fugle's goal as a rookie crew chief with a rookie driver is to reach the top-15 in owner point standings and finish in the top-10 in driver point standings while building fast cars in preparation for 2010. The team is currently 18th in owner points leading into the series' next race at Texas Motor Speedway, and Annett is 10th in driver points.