ANDY PETREE IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL CAR OWNER CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Andy Petree, car owner and crew chief for Ken Schrader and the Skoal Bandit Racing Chevrolet, is a man of many talents. While most car owners in NASCAR Winston Cup delegate ...
ANDY PETREE IS NOT YOUR TYPICAL CAR OWNER
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Andy Petree, car owner and crew chief for Ken Schrader and the Skoal Bandit Racing Chevrolet, is a man of many talents. While most car owners in NASCAR Winston Cup delegate responsibilities to qualified personnel, Petree does delegate some duties but also enjoys getting his hands dirty working alongside the members of the Skoal Bandit Racing team. He is actively involved in all facets of his new racing organization from managing over 50 employees during the week to being a car owner, crew chief and tire changer on the weekends. He is not your typical car owner.
Petree discovered his destiny in Hickory Motor Speedway's parking lot when he heard the roar of the engines echoing from the infield. That roar lured Petree like the smell of homemade apple pie right into the track which hosted the likes of Ned Jarrett, Bobby Isaac, Harry Gant and Jack Ingram. Petree decided that day that he was either going to drive cars or work on them.
"I started out working with one of today's top drivers - Dale Jarrett. In 1977, Dale, myself and Johnny Newsome started DAJ Racing," Petree said. "Since DAJ Racing is still running in the NASCAR Busch Series, we must have done something right.
"When I went to work for Leo Jackson Motorsports in 1982, I was a mechanic but knew I wanted to move up the ladder in a hurry. I took on as much responsibility as Leo would let me, and eventually I was named crew chief. I learned a lot while working for Leo and I really learned how to lead a winning team while working with Harry."
Petree served as Harry Gant's crew chief from 1989 to 1992, during which time he helped Gant win nine races, including four in a row in 1991 for Jackson.
Petree's success caught the eye of Richard Childress, who's team fields cars for seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt. Ready for a new challenge, Petree went to work for Childress in 1993. Together, Petree and Earnhardt went on to win two straight NASCAR Winston Cup championships along with 15 victories. But those achievements still weren't enough for the fiercely competitive Petree.
"It was a tough decision to leave Richard and Dale after winning two championships, but I wanted to be a car owner and returning to Leo Jackson Motorsports offered me that opportunity."
At the end of the 1995 season, Petree returned home to Leo Jackson Motorsports to not only be crew chief, but also to become the eventual owner of the team. Although the return to Leo Jackson Motorsports was frustrating at first, Petree was determined to become successful.
The transaction for Petree to become the car owner of the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Racing Chevrolet took place on October 1, 1996, about the same time he announced Ken Schrader as his new full-time driver.
"Andy talked to me the previous May and I told him I was going to stay at Hendrick Motorsports," said Schrader, driver of the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Racing Chevrolet. "Then I got thinking one afternoon in August and I asked if he was still looking for a driver. He said yeah, and the deal was done.
"I talked to Rusty Wallace, Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt and Richard basically told me that I'd have absolutely no regrets. I can honestly say today, that I have no regrets for joining Andy's team."
Today, Petree and Schrader have meshed and believe there a lot of great things yet to happen at Andy Petree Racing. In their first season together, Petree and Schrader expected a top-10 finish in the point standings and accomplished it. Petree's next expectation was to get a second team up and running to help build on what he had started with Schrader. This year, Petree signed Oakwood Homes as the primary sponsor of a NASCAR Busch Series team with Schrader driving a limited schedule. In 1999, Petree will own a second NASCAR Winston Cup team with Schrader's long-time friend, Kenny Wallace, and sponsor Square D.
The addition of a second team will be a challenge for Petree. He will now oversee the business operations of two full-time teams, but also continue his role as Schrader's crew chief at the race track. It is a full plate, but Petree has a large appetite for success.
"We have what it takes to get to victory lane and we are getting closer every week," said Petree. "This team has made great strides this year. Last year we were a top-15 team. This year we are a top-10 team. The one thing that has kept us from finishing in the top 10 in every race this year has been our pit stops.
"We weren't where we needed to be when it came to our pit stops. Every time we came in for a regular pit stop we were getting Kenny behind, so we decided to make some changes on the crew. It has taken us most of the season, but I think we've finally got a pit crew that can gain spots in the pits."
Until recently, Petree changed tires for the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Racing Chevrolet. He put his air wrench down about mid-way through the season, but picked it back up when pit stops fell into a slump. Recently, Petree has put the air wrench down again to focus on his expanding race team. But Petree wouldn't hesitate to change tires again if he thought it was necessary to have an edge on the competition.
The Skoal Bandit Racing team and Petree have come a long way since their rookie season in 1996. Together, they have overcome obstacles and growing pains and Petree knows there are still many more on the horizon. But one thing remains certain, with Petree at the helm of the Skoal Bandit Racing team the entire operation has its sights set on one main goal.
"My ultimate goal is to be a championship car owner," Petree said. "Failure is not an option to me."