Entering only his fourth year as a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief and first year with Dale Earnhardt Inc., 38-year-old Scott Eggleston is quite optimistic about the 2001 season. Do not let his quiet demeanor fool you. A self-proclaimed "common ...
Entering only his fourth year as a NASCAR Winston Cup crew chief and first year with Dale Earnhardt Inc., 38-year-old Scott Eggleston is quite optimistic about the 2001 season. Do not let his quiet demeanor fool you. A self-proclaimed "common sense" crew chief, Eggleston speaks with the confidence of a seasoned veteran as he prepares for his new responsibilities with the NAPA Racing team.
Have you had any prior relationships with Michael Waltrip or Dale Earnhardt?
Eggleston: I've not had an opportunity, before now, to work with Dale. But I have worked closely with Michael during the past two years. When Mattei Motorsports bought into Sabco Racing's engineering and body program (1998), the foundation for our relationship was set. Michael and I worked together on chassis set-up and during test sessions, so I knew when I accepted Earnhardt's offer what kind of personality and driver I'd be working with. It's all about communication between driver and crew chief so I think we're ahead of the game a little bit in that respect.
What do you consider the hardest part of your role as crew chief?
Eggleston: The crew-chief role has changed in the recent past. There is more emphasis put on the crew chief to manage and assemble a large, diverse group of individuals. It's not hard, just more difficult. Because of its importance to the success of a race team, bringing together the right group of people becomes a crucial element and a big responsibility for a crew chief. The different personalities have to mesh well. They have to compliment your organization and each other. Finding the right mix and avoiding employee turnover is vital to the overall improvement of the team and the morale of the driver.
Was it a hard decision to make the move to Dale Earnhardt Inc.?
Eggleston: Yes and no. It was an easy decision in the sense that last year's DEI teams proved that they are weekly contenders and have top-notch programs. The opportunity is there for me to build the same situation for the No. 15 and give Michael the chance to win a race. So that part was easy; plus, I'm really excited about the chance to work for Earnhardt. The hard part was that I was at Sabco Racing for four years and I had a lot of friends there. I was loyal to my job. However, with the change in ownership at Sabco, it made my decision to leave easier.
Every team at Dale Earnhardt Inc. won last season - one in its rookie year - what kind of pressure does that put on you?
Eggleston: Oh, a lot for sure. But we'll have the same cars, the same motors, and the same opportunities for a win. DEI will keep us on an equal playing field, so that Michael can get that win and we can keep that record going. Pressure? No doubt, but I can handle it. I have confidence in this team's talents. What do you consider the easiest part of your role as crew chief?
Eggleston: Definitely working on the cars. I've been honing these skills since I was a kid and it comes naturally to me. I am a hands-on crew chief.
Who has had the most influence on your career?
Eggleston: Richard Petty and Dale Inman. Richard opened the door for me. He and Dale gave me the opportunity to broaden my knowledge of the sport. I learned a great deal from both of them. Their diverse personalities made me better at everything I did. Richard was always easy-going, so he would let you do anything, try anything. Dale on the other hand, kept the pressure on, made you do the job, made you finish the job. They had completely different styles, but they complimented each other. It was a perfect balance of push and pull.
Are you a more confident crew chief at the short tracks, intermediate or speedways?
Eggleston: It just depends on the weekend! I've run well at all of them. I don't see why we can't be strong at every track, every week. I'd say short tracks, intermediate, and superspeedways in that order. Racing is such a guessing game and it's so competitive now. Throw a little luck in the mix and anything can happen. My strengths may be at one track and Michael's at another, while DEI's notes at another may be strong. All-in-all we have the experience for any track.
What are your team's goals and expectations for the 2001 season?
Eggleston: Well, obviously, we're looking for a win. That's our main goal, to win a race. I would like to see this team finish in the top 15 in points. Obviously, that's not out of the question with the cars, equipment, and personnel we've got here. Those are realistic goals with the resources we have available to us.
What strengths do you bring to the team?
Eggleston: Organization and attention to detail. I like to have everything neat and organized and the car is the same way. It's a package of sorts. I'll do the best I can to take advantage of every strength DEI has and pay attention to the little things that could make big differences.
When and how did you get involved in racing?
Eggleston: I started racing motorcycles in 1976 when I was 14 years old. I raced for six years in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. I competed in 200 American Motorcycle Association (AMA) events. I won 23 of them before I decided to step out of the driver's seat. I hung up my helmet and started working with a NASCAR Late-Model Stock Car team in Manassas, Va. My big break came in 1989 when I was hired as a general mechanic on the No. 43 STP Pontiac and driver Richard Petty. Going to work at Petty Enterprises was the best thing that could have happened to me. I was in and I was hooked.
SCOTT EGGLESTON: CREW CHIEF QUICK FACTS
Date of Birth: May 13, 1962 Height: 5' 10" Hometown: Springfield, Va. Children: Jessica and Lauren Residence: Mooresville, N.C. Wife: Michelle
2000 Recruited by Dale Earnhardt Incorporated to lead third Winston Cup team in its first season with driver Michael Waltrip.
1999 Became crew chief on No. 40 SABCO Chevrolet of Sterling Marlin. Led Marlin to 10th career NASCAR Winston Cup pole at Pocono Raceway for the Pocono 500. 1998 Promoted to crew chief for Joe Nemechek's SABCO Chevrolet from chief mechanic.
1997 Accepted general mechanic position with Felix Sabates' No. 40 Team SABCO Chevrolet driven by Robby Gordon. Midway through the season, the crews of Gordon and Nemechek switched, at which time Eggleston began his association with Joe Nemechek.
1996 Left Petty Enterprises to become crew chief for part-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team owned by Kurt Roehrig. During his tenure, worked with drivers David Green, Johnny Benson, Mike McLaughlin and Steve Park. Concerned about the future of the team, took a position with Yarborough Motorsports' No. 98 Ford driven by John Andretti with eight races remaining in the season.
1989 Went to the World 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and happened to talk with someone about a job in racing. Two weeks later, he landed a position as a general mechanic on the No. 43 STP Pontiac driven by Richard Petty. 1982 Worked on various NASCAR Late-Model Stock Car teams in Landover, Md. while maintaining a full-time job at Giant Foods grocery store in the dairy processing plant.
1976 Competed in more than 200 American Motorcycle Association events in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland, winning 23 races.
1976 Began repairing friends' vehicles out of the family garage at home. Neighbors asked the 14-year-old to drive the cars and diagnose the problem.
1972 At the age of 10, picked up his first wrench to work on the family car with his father.