Roush Fenway Racing team spotlight - Calinoff

Veteran Spotter Calinoff a Trusting Voice for Stenhouse Jr. CONCORD, N.C. (May 6, 2010) -- The driver/spotter relationship is one that is built on trust. For Ricky Stenhouse Jr., that has certainly been the case in 2010. As a rookie in the...

Veteran Spotter Calinoff a Trusting Voice for Stenhouse Jr.

CONCORD, N.C. (May 6, 2010) -- The driver/spotter relationship is one that is built on trust. For Ricky Stenhouse Jr., that has certainly been the case in 2010. As a rookie in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Stenhouse relies on veteran spotter Mike Calinoff to guide him each weekend. Calinoff, one of the most accomplished spotters in NASCAR (and Matt Kenseth's Sprint Cup spotter), sat down to discuss the dynamics of working with a young driver and how he coaches one of Roush Fenway Racing's talented rookies. Here's what he had to say.

Q: As a veteran spotter, what has it been like to work with rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr.?

A: I was telling Jack (Roush) the other day that, while I love working with Matt (Kenseth) every week, I really enjoy working with Ricky as well. Obviously as a champion in the sport, Matt doesn't need any "coaching." In fact, when I'm spotting for Matt, I'm always learning new things myself. With Ricky, I can take many of the elements of how Matt drives and translate them to certain areas of Ricky's development.For me, it's very rewarding to be able to work with Ricky on these race weekends and see measurable results. Ricky has been successful at every level and I'm confident that he has the skills to advance to the top level of NASCAR.

Q: Does your approach to spotting change with a young driver versus a veteran?

A: With Matt, I'm primarily giving him information on what is happening so that he can make good decisions throughout the race. That may consist of telling him which line the leaders are running or even how other competitors are racing. The information on the competition side is merely just information and not suggestions or directives. With Ricky, my approach is completely different. In addition to the standard spotter duties of calling the wrecks and informing when another car is inside or outside, I'm pretty much dissecting every inch of the racetrack for him. We typically work on pass-timing, the momentum factor and when to be patient or aggressive. A lot of what I try to convey to him is based on "big picture" thinking, both during the race and for the future. Ricky has become comfortable with me telling him what it appears he should do from the stand, as opposed to just giving suggestions.

Q: What is your biggest advice to Ricky during the race?

A: Very simply, patience. These young drivers want to get to the front as soon as the race starts. Most of them have developed their skills on short tracks where a feature event is 35 - 50 laps. The NASCAR races are much longer and you've got plenty of time to get your rhythm and let the race play out. Historically, those who are patient during a race have the best chance of getting a good finish. On the other hand, you can't just hang around and wait for passing opportunities. There is a very fine line between the two, and those who learn that balance have the best chance of being successful.

Q: Give me your impressions of Stenhouse Jr. through the first nine races?

A: When I heard that Jack had signed Ricky I called Robbie Reiser (Roush Fenway Racing General Manager) and asked if I could spot for him. I've followed Ricky's career and knew that he had a lot of raw talent and I was very motivated to work with him. It took us about five races to really get in sync with each other. I needed to learn where he needed the most guidance and he needed to gain trust in what I was telling him. I think we've achieved that. The driver/spotter relationship is based on trust. I believe that before you have the trust factor in place, there needs to be a friendship dynamic as well. I feel really good about where Ricky and I are as friends and equally confident that our on-track relationship is very strong as well. I look forward to our Nationwide weekends together.

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About Roush Fenway Racing

Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR's largest team operating eight motorsports teams. Four in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; and four in the Nationwide Series with Edwards, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Colin Braun, and Paul Menard. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto Become a fan of Roush Fenway Racing on Facebook by going to And for sponsorship inquiries please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.


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Drivers Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Colin Braun , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , David Ragan , Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Teams Roush Fenway Racing