Morgan-McClure Motorsports changes crew chief

Danny Gill, a 31 year old Nashville, Tenn., native, will take over crew chief duties for the No.4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo at Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The change, effective Monday, July 10, moves former crew chief Robert Larkins into...

Danny Gill, a 31 year old Nashville, Tenn., native, will take over crew chief duties for the No.4 Kodak MAX Film Monte Carlo at Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The change, effective Monday, July 10, moves former crew chief Robert Larkins into the Shop Foreman position. Larkins will also remain the jackman on race day. Gill moves into the crew chief position from the same duty held with Bobby Hamilton Racing for the No. 18 DANA Dodge driven by Joe Ruttman in Lebanon, Tenn. The 2000 season was his first full year in the top-gun position. He had 4 pole wins and a win at Phoenix International Raceway in March. Ironically, Hamilton's first win as a car owner came at the same track he won his first NASCAR Winston Cup race. However, Gill had been with Bobby Hamilton Racing's Craftsman Truck Series team since its inception in 1999. The changes within Morgan-McClure Motorsports come during the midway point of a grueling season for the team. Gill, who has a Business Degree from Middle Tennessee State University, understands the pressures he is stepping into. "I feel like I've just learned to read and I have to take the SAT test next Sunday (at Pocono). It's a pretty awesome opportunity for me. The shop is unbelievable. The guys on this team have so much talent," Gill said. Larry McClure, team owner, and Bobby Hamilton, driver, have taken tremendous steps to turn their season around. McClure realizes the importance of the driver/crew chief relationship, while Hamilton realizes he has just reorganized his entire truck team. "We had to do something to try to turn this thing around," McClure stated. "I think we have made a good decision. I understand there will be a learning curve during the transition, but Gill is a really sharp fellow. He's very organized. I really don't think it will take long for him to catch on. All of the guys are happy. Larkins is happy with the change. I think it will give our team a huge boost." Gill, whose wife LaRayne will eventually make the move from Nashville, Tenn., to the rolling hills of Abingdon, Va. with him, says he feels like he is an overnight success that has taken 28 years to happen. He realizes, also, that his brashness might have been the ticket to get him to this position. "1992 was the first time I ever met Hamilton face to face. The circumstances were not real good. We were both competing in a Late Model Stock Car race at Nashville Speedway, the year after he had won NASCAR Rookie of the Year honors. We wrecked. My view was that he wrecked me, so I got out of my car and went over to his, jerked his window net down and proceeded to tell him what I really thought of him," a chuckling Gill remembered. " From that point on, Hamilton didn't have any use for me. "Our paths finally crossed again in 1998. I guess that was the beginning of our professional dealings with one another. I worked for Sadler Racing out of Nashville. Bobby, Jr., came to drive for the team. I was ready to quit. I didn't want any part of the Hamiltons. I didn't quit, but instead formed a great working relationship with them. "I went to Atlanta as "Little" Bobby's crew chief on an ARCA car in 1998 at the end of the season. He sat on the pole and finished second. I guess that was really my first dealing with Morgan-McClure Motorsports, because the car had one of their engines in it." Morgan-McClure Motorsports went to the recent two day GM test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Although no great leaps were accomplished, the driver and the team feel confident they are making strides in the right direction. They are preparing to go to a wind tunnel test the first of next week and then go back to Indy for another test, before the famed race. Gill jumped into the water, not just to get his feet wet, but needing a snorkel. "Indy is probably the last place I would have wanted to start with the team. But, it was the first," Gill said. "I went to the prestigious facility as a crew member with Sadler Racing in 1998. I just stood and looked around in amazement. This time, when I went for the test session with Morgan-McClure, I didn't have time to look around. I tried to learn the track and get a feel of what Hamilton wants in a car there. It is certainly a different kind of animal than I have ever dealt with." "I think the main thing I have going for me is my relationship with Hamilton. Being a driver myself, I know the feel he is looking for. I just have to learn to use all of the resources that are available now. The technology is something I will have to catch up on, because I have never had so much to use. "I started going to races when I was three years old. I have grown up around the local guys who turn wrenches night and day. I've watched Hamilton's career progress. Racing is what I know. In reality, I'm not happy unless I'm around it," Gill said. " This is what I've worked all of my life for, so I know I have to accomplish this goal. I want to be successful. Dreams do become reality." A little boy cut enough grass over a couple of years to save money. The money accumulated. So when the little boy turned 11, he took it and bought a car. A real car. One that could be transformed into a race car to take to the local tracks. His 14-year-old brother drove the race car, while the buyer worked on it mechanically and made calls in the pits. Twenty years later, Danny Gill is fulfilling his dream. He will be working on a race car mechanically and making calls in the pits, not for his brother, but for Bobby Hamilton and Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Joe Ruttman