For crew chief Brian Pattie winning the pole for Daytona 500 with driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was special for many reasons.
Not only did the pole come in the their first qualifying attempt with JTG Daugherty Racing since making the move in the offseason, but it came in Pattie’s home state.
"It’s the track closest to my house over in Zephyrhills," Pattie said as he tried to hold back tears. "It means a lot.
"I don’t know why we spend so much time on 500 cars but it’s moments like this. It’s cool, I didn’t know that Kroger was sponsoring the pole so that’s even better. It’s been a story book start to our career at JTG Daugherty Racing with Ricky and I."
Pattie and Stenhouse were paired together at Roush Fenway Racing for the past three seasons at Roush Fenway Racing where they won two races in 2017 – both coming at superspeedways, including the July Daytona race. But when RFR announced that Chris Buescher would be returning to the team that opened the door for the move to JTG.
"We both needed something new and I’m glad for the opportunity over here at JTG," Pattie said. "Listen, it’s hard changing jobs and I’m not a guy that wants to move around very much. I spent four really good years over at Roush, but it was time for a change. I love Jack to death, but for myself personally it was needed. So coming over here was a breath of fresh air."
The atmosphere at JTG Daugherty reminds Pattie about his early days in NASCAR when he was a crew chief at NEMCO Motorsports in the Xfinity Series.
"It reminds me a lot of NEMCO," Pattie said. "That’s what I told them when I talked to them. We come in and we build fast race cars and we go to the track and win races and that’s what we did with Nemechek for 11 years back when I first started and I think this has that same feeling and hopefully this shows it."
Although there won’t be any on-track activity until Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel, Pattie and the No. 47 team will be hard at work starting with taking the Phoenix car to the wind tunnel.
"Tuesday and Wednesday we are going to work on our Vegas stuff and try to get it prepared for next week and Thursday we are going for 10 points and a win," Pattie said.
The 10 points he is referring to is the amount one driver can score if they can win their respective Duel. As a result of winning the pole, Stenhouse will start from the No. 1 spot in the opening Duel.
"When they started paying points for the Duel it makes it a little more important, especially for the front row guys," Pattie said. "I know we are locked in and we are probably not going to take very big chances. Points are points and we’ve got to excel and make stage points when we can and speedways is a good chance to do it."
Hear more from Pattie, along with Stenhouse Jr., on NASCAR Live, Tuesday at MRN.com. Motor Racing Network will have live coverage of Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel starting at 6 p.m. ET.