Veteran Crew Chief Robert "Bootie" Barker Joins Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Team as Crew Chief for 2009 Season CORNELIUS, N.C. (October 1, 2008) -- Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced today that NASCAR veteran...
Veteran Crew Chief Robert "Bootie" Barker Joins Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Team as Crew Chief for 2009 Season
CORNELIUS, N.C. (October 1, 2008) -- Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) announced today that NASCAR veteran Robert "Bootie" Barker will be the crew chief of the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry driven by two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Bobby Kennedy, who has worked with Waltrip in multiple roles for over a decade, is moving into a crucial management position at MWR.
"Our organization continues to grow and add depth in several key areas," Waltrip said. "Bringing Bootie on as my crew chief is part of a larger plan that enables Bobby Kennedy to move into a critical management position. We have discussed this move since the summer, but waited until we were able to hire a crew chief of Bootie's caliber and we're really glad to have him join MWR."
Barker, who graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in mechanical engineering, is a native of Halifax, Va., and has been a regular in the NASCAR garage for 12 years. His experience spans across all three major divisions of NASCAR. He got his start in 1996 building shocks for Kurt Roehrig's Truck Series team and after honing his skills, Barker advanced to the Sprint Cup Series to work for such teams as Bill Davis Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. While at Hendrick, Barker visited Victory Lane five times with NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team as a shock specialist.
In 2000, Barker got his first chance at calling the shots for driver Scott Wimmer in the Nationwide Series. He went on to win four races in the 2002 season. For the past five seasons, Barker has built one of the best reputations in the Sprint Cup ranks as the crew chief for drivers including Dave Blaney, Jason Leffler, Mike Bliss, Jeff Green and Scott Riggs.
Barker's first Sprint Cup Series opportunity occurred when he moved to Jasper Motorsports in 2003 to work with Blaney. Near the end of the year, Barker joined Haas CNC Racing to help develop their Nationwide Series program. During the 2004 season, Barker led the team to its first Nationwide Series victory with Leffler at Nashville Superspeedway. At end of the season, Barker advanced to lead Haas CNC Racing's Cup Series team with driver Bliss. While at Haas, Barker also worked with Green and more recently Riggs. Barker's best finish this season with Riggs is a fourth-place effort at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Now, Barker is geared up and ready to lead the NAPA AUTO PARTS team to Victory Lane with his new owner and driver, Waltrip.
"I really appreciate the confidence that Michael has in me," Barker said. "He has accomplished a lot in his racing career and the fact that he wanted me to be his crew chief goes a long way for me personally. Everyone I met from the crew chiefs to the management team are very welcoming and they are all racers. I'm looking forward to being able to help the No. 55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry team achieve their short-term and long-term goals."