Gary DeHart Talks about His New Role at Morgan-McClure MS

Friday, Feb. 19, 1999. North Carolina Speedway. GARY DEHART (Crew chief No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) NOTE: DeHart discusses his new role as Race Team Coordinator with Morgan- McClure Motorsports, Inc., and driver Bobby ...

Friday, Feb. 19, 1999. North Carolina Speedway.

GARY DEHART (Crew chief No. 4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo) NOTE: DeHart discusses his new role as Race Team Coordinator with Morgan- McClure Motorsports, Inc., and driver Bobby Hamilton. "I really don't like the title crew chief. Call it something personal or whatever, but Team Coordinator sounded better. What we're doing right now is trying to find someone who will come in and be crew chief, either from the outside or recruit from within. Larry (McClure, team owner) asked me to help them do that. I have a shop in Denver, N.C., where I do all of Morgan- McClure's work. They're my best customer. When Larry asked if I could help them, I couldn't say no. I could have, but I didn't. They're good people. "Right now, I guess you could say I'm full-time with the team. At the race track, I'm kind of like the coordinator. I say coordinator because they've got a bunch of good guys over there who get along real well. You really don't have to tell them what to do. They're self-motivated people. So, you really don't need a crew chief or leader. If you get somebody to come in there and kind of tutor them along and show them what they need to do and what they don't need to do, then maybe later on we'll get a crew chief. On that side of it, at the race track, I've worked a few days a week. Back at my shop in Denver, I'm working the rest of the time. I may go to Abingdon and work a day or two a week. Really, with all of it combined, I'm still working for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. Everything I do at my shop, I do development wise and build the chassis and the cars. Then I go to the race track. It's like a well-rounded deal really. "This is the first full year I've had my shop. I feel like we've been very successful doing it. We've been building chassis, doing complete turn-key jobs. My son Gene has been putting the bodies on for me, and he's put a couple on for Larry. I did work for other teams at first, then I got away from it. The commitment it takes to do one thing is so great in this sport that it's really hard to venture out and say you're going to do work for everybody. I've turned down a lot of work. I felt like it would be more beneficial for me to do development work for the 4 car than go out and try to do small odds and ends here and there. If you're going to sell somebody a chassis, then you kind of need to go with it and kind of teach the boys what they've got. This deal I've got with the 4 car is working out really good because I get to build the chassis, I get to oversee the body going on, I get to make the improvements when we go test them and I get to go to the race track and watch over what I've done with those guys. It's really just everything for the right reason to do it this way. "I'll be just like a crew chief (on race day). I used to work for Hendrick Motorsports, and Rick Hendrick will tell you this. I didn't want the job (crew chief). When it became available, the crew chief for the 5 car team, we tried to get somebody outside to do it. I was out there trying to find somebody to do it, too, because I didn't want to do it. I was happy in the chassis shop, building the chassis and overseeing that program. I started the Hendrick chassis development program. I don't really miss it, but over the years, you figure if you're going to do it, you're going to do it the best you can. Anything you do, you need to do it the best you can. I enjoy it. The good days are great. The bad days are twice as bad. The sport has changed. "In different types of racing, they have different titles. Titles like car chief. Maybe I'm not a car chief, because I actually don't work on the car. Maybe I'm more of a manager or something like that. It's hard to tell. It's changed over the years and you need to change the titles a little bit. Crew chiefs are when you had people like Harry Hyde. I loved Harry. There's not a handful of good crew chiefs out there, and I don't know why. We talked about that a little bit. We talked about getting a crew chief and who we could get. Well, where do you go? Crew chief school? Where's that at? We're going to run it for awhile and see what happens. Someone might have a blowup here in the next month or two and be a pretty good leader. That happens all the time. We'll see what happens from there. If it works OK with me, and my program works with the 4 car program, if everything goes together... It's a full-time job, but part of it is my business and part of it is Larry's business. Part of it is at the race track. If we can make it all go together. I'm just like everybody else. I've got to make a living. I've got to do something. "I think this is a great team. It's good people and they've got better cars than they've had. I'm going to spend some time at the shop and we're going to go over the cars and make them more compatible with each other. We're going to make one good basic car, kind of like the Hendrick cars are. That's kind of the direction we're headed. "Bobby Hamilton is a good driver. I think he's got the potential to win some more races. I don't think he's peaked yet. There's something there. When they had Ernie, he was a great driver and they had success at a lot of different track. Everything changes over the years, drivers, crew chiefs. If you don't keep up with what's going on, things can change right in front of your eyes and you won't even see it. Sterling was a good driver, but it just takes time. They've gone through some good drivers in the last few years, and it just takes time to get a driver used to the team. That's what I'm trying to do, seeing through some of the obstacles and getting things to flow better. We've got to get everything going in the right direction. "Larry had been wanting me to do this for awhile. I didn't tell him I wouldn't do it. I told him I couldn't do it last week. He called me and told me about Charley (Pressley). He said he needed some help. I've got a heart as big as all outdoors, so I told him I'd do it, but we had to restructure a few things. I decided I'd just do it. "I worked with Terry Labonte in 1984 when he won his first championship. I was a fabricator for that team. I think I know more about the race car than most people do. I think my strong point is the chassis and knowing the car inside and out. There's not too much on the car I couldn't fix. "Bobby feels pretty good about the car here. Our numbers don't reflect it, but I think we're going to be pretty good. The rain might help things here at Rockingham. It'll wash a lot of the sand and grit off the track. It's always hard on tires here. We love to come here. We've almost got a race setup in the car for qualifying. Some of these places you just about need a race setup to qualify. You've got to have all the grip you can and take care of the tires. "Any time you win a race or two in a season, that's pretty good as long as you finish up there in the points. The points thing is the most important. We're going to do all we can right now to run for points. I'd like to sit here and say we can win six races, but that's a pretty big number with the Gordon kid out there. He's tough. He surprised me a little bit last week."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Terry Labonte
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , HART