FOX NASCAR Insider
NASCAR’s latest high competitors official has lots in widespread with those that had the function up to now.
His predecessors spent many years within the sport and have been well-known all through the NASCAR storage.
However Elton Sawyer brings one thing totally different to his function as NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competitors.
He is a former driver.
Sawyer would not say that makes a major distinction. However having that on his résumé will make followers surprise if it’s going to imply a distinct perspective from the particular person whose job it’s to supervise officiating each within the storage (technical inspection) and in race management (in-race penalties).
“As you take care of all of the gamers within the storage — from the house owners to the drivers to the crew chiefs to the crew members — and having a basic thought and perspective on what their function inside it’s, I believe it could actually solely be a profit,” Sawyer mentioned.
Sawyer replaces Scott Miller, who had spent the previous seven years as the game’s high official centered on the three nationwide collection. Miller, like Robin Pemberton earlier than him, labored as a crew chief within the Cup Collection. Miller will assume a contest technique function, specializing in competitors parts of particular and new occasions, such because the Conflict, the all-star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway (which could have its first Cup occasion since 1996) and the inaugural Chicago avenue race.
The 63-year-old Sawyer spent 20 years as a driver within the Xfinity Collection, racing from 1983 to 2002, and gained two races in 392 begins. He additionally made 29 Cup begins in 1995-96.
Sawyer has spent the previous 20 years working both as a contest govt for race groups or with NASCAR.
“I’ve nice recollections of my driving profession. That was that point, however I even have ardour [for the sport],” Saywer mentioned.
“I look ahead to getting up and going to work day by day and dealing with the good group right here at [NASCAR] and the business. … I really like going to the racetrack and looking out on the issues that we’re doing properly and the issues that we’re not doing properly and the way we’re not doing properly.”
After his driving profession, Sawyer labored for Purple Bull Racing, Evernham Motorsports and road-racing crew Motion Categorical, which was run by former NASCAR competitors director Gary Nelson.
Sawyer, who’s married to former NASCAR driver Patty Moise, joined NASCAR in 2015 because the managing director of the truck collection. For the previous seven years, he has served as a NASCAR vice chairman overseeing race occasion administration, transportation and official coaching and improvement.
“[Sawyer] will excel on this function, and we look ahead to watching him proceed to develop the competitors crew throughout this significant period in our sport’s historical past,” NASCAR Chief Working Officer Steve O’Donnell mentioned in a information launch.
Any particular person within the function would pull from their experiences, Sawyer mentioned, so he does have the motive force expertise to attract from.
“You’ll be able to pull from all of these,” Sawyer mentioned. “I believe as a crew chief, they bring about that distinctive perspective from that scene, they usually pull from the information that they gained via that time period.
“As a driver, you do the identical factor. I used to be by no means a crew chief, however I had these interactions with crew chiefs as a driver. So I believe you pull from all of these previous experiences, and I’ll proceed to do this as I transfer ahead.”
Sawyer mentioned he hopes to construct on final season, which noticed parity with 19 totally different Cup winners, one thing that many attribute to the Subsequent Gen automobile and maintaining groups from exposing grey areas within the rule e-book to achieve a bonus.
“I’ve a love and a ardour for the game, it doesn’t matter what the function has been,” Sawyer mentioned. “I’ve simply form of dove within the deep finish and dealing intently with the powers that be and the expertise that you just encompass your self with.
“And the large factor that I’ve discovered all through is I wish to make certain after I’m sitting in a room, I am not probably the most educated on that subject — and having folks round me which might be much more educated and lean on them for his or her experience.”
Regardless of how a lot driving expertise or crew chief expertise NASCAR’s competitors director would have, the character of the place would not change.
There’s one fixed: The particular person in that function is within the highlight.
“It comes with the territory. If issues are going properly, the credit score goes to our collection administrators and our officers and our race administrators and [pit-road officiating] and timing and scoring and all these people,” Sawyer mentioned. “They’re those on the bottom in the course of it.
“If it is not going properly, then it is my fault and I’m the one explaining why it is not going properly. I’ve nice religion within the crew we’ve got assembled right here.”
Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!
Thinking Out Loud
There has been some chatter on social media about whether Travis Pastrana should be approved to run the Daytona 500, considering he has run two Xfinity races and two truck races in the past nine years and has never been in a Cup race.
In his two truck races in 2020, he spun in his first one at Kansas (finishing 22nd) and then stayed out of trouble finishing 21st at Las Vegas. Those are both high-speed tracks and should be enough experience for him, combined with his Xfinity experience, to show he can handle the Cup speeds.
Travis Pastrana on his Daytona 500 bid
Travis Pastrana discusses the excitement of his fans for his Daytona 500 bid and whether he is nervous at all.
He started fourth and finished 10th in the 2013 Xfinity opener at Daytona. He obviously knows how to qualify, being on the front row for both Daytona races in the series that year.
As a driver who is skilled at controlling a car at high speeds through his other forms of motorsports, Pastrana has enough experience to race in Cup.
Did he at times lose control of the car in Xfinity when maybe a more experienced driver would have known not to push it? Yes. But many drivers do. Pastrana wasn’t known as a danger on the track as far as being slow or intentionally making a move that put another driver in harm’s way. He did enough — and continues to do enough in various action sports competitions on both two wheels and four wheels — to warrant approval to race in Cup for a superstar who will bring many eyes to the sport.
Stat of the Day
Martin Truex Jr. has led more stages (56) than any other driver in the Cup Series.
They Said It
“My speech shouldn’t be too long because most of the people I have to thank are dead.” —Hershel McGriff, 95, during his NASCAR Hall of Fame induction speech
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and join the FOX Sports activities NASCAR E-newsletter with Bob Pockrass.
Prime tales from FOX Sports activities:
Get extra from NASCAR Cup Collection Comply with your favorites to get details about video games, information and extra