Pattie Ready for Next Step
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on January 18, 2013 | 11:31 A.M. EST
Pattie talks with Bowyer during testing. (Photo: Getty Images)
Crew chief Brian Pattie is optimistic about helping guide his driver Clint Bowyer to the top of the Sprint Cup Series point standings in 2013.
Bowyer enjoyed a breakout season last year in his first campaign with Michael Waltrip Racing. The former Richard Childress Racing driver scored three victories and wound up second in the final standings behind champion Brad Keselowski.
Pattie sees enough of a solid foundation created last year to believe things can even be better in 2013.
But one of the challenges that lies ahead for Pattie and the entire MWR organization is the transition to the new Gen-6 Sprint Cup Series car. So far, Pattie is encouraged by the progress.
"It's going good for us, but all the teams are behind,” he said during this week’s second Charlotte test. “The Daytona test went good for us. We had good speed. We worked a lot of good things out with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) so looking forward to going back for the 500."
Teams have been scrambling to get the new cars built as NASCAR formulated and finalized the rules package. As the season moves closer and with Budweiser Speedweeks less than a month away, the pressure is on every organization to be ready including MWR.
"It's just time,” Pattie explained. “There's a lot of change between the platform that we have to go across, which has changed the way we line our cars to rear end housing cambers to the new body, new suspension setups -- there's a lot of change.
“Besides on track testing, there's just a lot of parts and pieces. You try to mileage out and make sure you don't have failures at the upcoming races."
Waiting on delivery of those “parts and pieces,” including the new carbon fiber hoods and deck lids that Sprint Cup cars will utilize this year, has slowed the process for teams. But Pattie isn’t worried about falling too far behind in production of his fleet of cars for the early part of the season.
"When you go to the 500 and everybody starts talking about how many cars they have back at the shop,” Pattie said when asked at what point teams will feel comfortable about their inventory. “Obviously, this is the first new car that we've had in quite a few years. Don't take it the wrong way, being behind is not a bad thing when you have new cars. It's just that we're not where we were 12 months ago as far as prepping for Daytona, but we will be.
“The guys are working six days a week and 12 or 14 hour days trying to get ready. Come the week after the 500, we should be in really good shape."
In the meantime Pattie is hoping to get as much track time this week in Charlotte to help preparations for the new campaign.
“We're basically doing mileage checks and more balance shifts and trends that we're going to see in our car,” he said.
“We won't actually test for the Charlotte race here so any track time will be good."