Houston Ready for New Role
By: Jeff Wackerlin - @JWackerlin on December 19, 2012 | 9:42 A.M. EST
The new Furniture Row pit crew team will train out of the Performance Instruction and Training facility in Mooresville, N.C. Monday through Thursdays from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Photo: Getty Images)
Mike Houston has spent the last seven years as a front-tire carrier and will now take his skills and help Furniture Row Racing establish its own pit crew starting this offseason.
Houston joined Furniture Row earlier this month as the pit crew coach and has been assembling an over the wall team for the No. 78 team and driver Kurt Busch.
Prior to joining Furniture Row, Houston worked for Hendrick Motorsports with the No. 24, 48 and 88 teams.
"For knowing (General Manager) Joe (Garone) as long as I have and knowing the type of ownership through Barney (Visser) and the type of organization that they have and the way that they conduct themselves over the years it was an easy transition," Houston said. "It was an easy decision. Leaving Hendrick Motorsports is a big deal and I owe a lot to them, but I think it’s help prep me and taught me the things that I need to know to move on and to broaden my career as a coach."
Not only will Houston coach, but he will have a dual role remaining as a tire carrier. This is his first year as a dedicated pit crew coach, but he's frequently worked helping people with the ins and outs of pit road through the NASCAR Diversity program.
"It's going to be a very new experience and very challenging, but we are really looking forward to it," Houston said.
Furniture Row Racing is based out of Denver, Colo. but will keep its pit crew in the Charlotte, N.C. area for training through-out the year at the 32,000-square foot Performance Instruction and Training facility in Mooresville. On Monday through Thursdays from 8 a.m. - 12 p.m., Houston and his team will complete workouts and training sessions.
“I think the good thing that we have going for us is that we are separate from the shop from Denver, which means all of our guys are pit crew only,” Houston said. "We are focused in just on pit stops. With the facilities and the resources that we have here at PIT we are looking forward to it. We have already started."
Previously, Furniture Row utilized pit crews from other NASCAR teams with the most recent coming out of Stewart-Haas Racing.
"That group of guys have been together for a while and they were clicking at the end of the year," Houston said. "With gathering a new group of guys together it's going to take some time to build the chemistry, but I really think with having our own group of guys and not depending on someone else to train them. Having them under the umbrella of Furniture Row Racing I think we can have better control over it. I think eventually it will be and exceed what we were getting with Stewart-Haas Racing."
With his team in place, Houston knows Furniture Row Racing has the right people to become established as a contender each week.
"We have a good group of season veterans that have come on board, which made the recruiting process pretty easy," Houston said. "The guys in the garage they talk and they know how well Furniture Row treats their people and they wanted to be a part of it.
"Coming off of three straight top 10s last year with the 78 car that's really how we intend to roll into the 2013 season. With a former champion driver, with Kurt Busch, (crew chief) Todd Berrier and owner Barney Visser and Joe Garone and the support that we have there should be no reason why we should finish outside the top 10 week in and week out."