CONCORD, N.C. – While most race weekends will not see any NASCAR Cup Series on-track action until Saturday practice, the week starts much earlier for the hauler drivers of Hendrick Motorsports.
Depending on where the race is being held, these employees will leave several days ahead of the team to ensure the car and equipment have safely arrived at the race track. For Scott Denton, one of the hauler drivers for Alex Bowman and the No. 48 Ally Racing team, it’s an important job that he does to the best of his ability.
While Denton is currently in the midst of his 13th season with Hendrick Motorsports, his entry into the profession began 19 years ago with Chip Ganassi Racing. After moving through the ranks of the organization and eventually driving one of their Cup Series haulers, it was Steve Letarte (then the crew chief for Jeff Gordon), that asked Denton if he would join Hendrick Motorsports as a truck driver for Gordon's No. 24 team. He accepted and started with the organization in June of 2010.
For a normal race weekend, the hauler driver is responsible for much more than just arriving at the track. After parking the hauler, Denton unloads the equipment and ensures that it is in the proper place. Despite the long hours on the road, his job does not end after the truck is put in park.
"It’s a hard process, a long process," Denton said. "It takes about two-and-half hours to get it done right. Once they (the team) get there, the trailer is set up completely. They don’t have to do anything but unload the car."
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Although the job title may not include helping out in the pits, those in roles such as Denton's handle several key tasks when at the racetrack. During the race, viewers can find Denton situated in and around the pit box, ready to throw the hose of his tire changer’s pit gun over the wall. He will also catch tires coming off of the car to ensure they do not roll into another team’s pit box, which would be a penalty.
Despite a difficult summer, the team has grown stronger together. For Denton, it’s an emphasis on teamwork that has bonded the group.
"It’s been up and down," Denton said. "It’s a good group and we’ve been together for a while. We’ve learned to regroup and come back stronger and stay as a team. You can’t do it by yourself."