Texaco/Havoline No 28 team has good chemistry

Charlotte, N.C. -- Team chemistry - it is one of the intangible qualities of a NASCAR team that crew chiefs long for their teams to attain. Unlike a reliable set of tires, a lightning-quick pit crew or an exceptional driver, team chemistry...

Charlotte, N.C. -- Team chemistry - it is one of the intangible qualities of a NASCAR team that crew chiefs long for their teams to attain. Unlike a reliable set of tires, a lightning-quick pit crew or an exceptional driver, team chemistry is often the elusive ingredient to achieving the best NASCAR team possible. Despite the fact that the current No. 28 Texaco/Havoline Ford team has been together only for 10 months, they feel they have excelled in the chemistry department. The question is, how does a team develop good chemistry and why does the 28 team have so much of it? According to team members, driver Ricky Rudd plays a major role not only because he is a veteran driver but because he is a leader, a role-model and most importantly, a friend to the members of the Texaco/Havoline team. "Ricky is a great guy," said team shock specialist Jerry Wittig. "We both like to ride go-karts so sometimes we'll go out and ride together. Ricky'll get an idea about the go-kart and call me at home to tell me. "He actually comes to the shop just to hang out and shoot the breeze with us." In a time when many NASCAR drivers associate with their team only on race weekends, Rudd's commitment to his teammates says a lot about his character. Buster Callaway, the transporter driver, agrees. "Ricky gets along with everyone on the team," said Callaway. "He tries to talk with everybody. "It's not like he comes in on Sunday, drives the race car and that's it. He makes an effort. He's a pleasure to work with." Members of the 28 team know Rudd to be well-grounded and see him as a friend, not as an untouchable celebrity. Doug Yates, team engine builder, attributes his team's chemistry to Rudd. "Ricky is an all-star," Yates said. "He sets the tone for the whole team because he is calm and collected. "The guys on our team now are a blend of what we had and of what Ricky had when he was a team owner. We enjoy being around each other and can feel the championship coming." When two teams come together, common sense says the meshing of the teams will take a while and egos may clash. But the Texaco/Havoline team has shown that this is not always the case. "We were fortunate to get a good blend when we merged some of Ricky's team with Robert Yates' team," said Hoyt Overbagh, the team engineer. "All of the guys are working to get along and everyone is demonstrating maturity and skills. Nobody has a huge ego. "It also helps that we all respect Ricky. I refuse to work for a driver I don't respect. This whole sport hinges around respect for a driver." In addition to genuinely liking and respecting their driver, members of the team also like one another. "We spend a lot of time with each other," Jerry Wittig said. "We eat lunch and dinner together because we want to. "Even though there is a big age gap with some of the guys and we have different backgrounds, we all get along great. Some of the guys I think of as brothers and some of them I think of as fathers." John Bryan, team jackman, says that the chemistry is there because all of the guys are "on the same page." "We're all thinking alike right now - the main thing on our minds is a win," said Bryan. "If one guy doesn't care about our pit stops, it can be detrimental to the whole team. Right now, our performance shows just how much we care about what goes on in the pit. If we can keep our pit chemistry going for next year, we'll be looking at a championship." Fortunately for crew chief Michael McSwain, team chemistry does not have to be one of his concerns. The 28 team definitely has chemistry -- it has helped them achieve 11 top-fives, 17 top-10's and fifth place in the point standings. The Texaco/Havoline team's chemistry comes from people who know how to get along and a driver who loves what he does and appreciates those who help him do it.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Robert Yates