WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2007) – Watkins Glen International, site of Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race, is familiar territory for Chad Walter, crew chief of the National Guard Chevrolet. A once frequent visitor at the 2.45-mile track, Walter was raised in nearby Albion, N.Y., where he aided his high-school football team to four consecutive seasons without a loss. From there, Walter enrolled at Cornell University, where he continued to play football as a defensive end before graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering. “I actually grew up going to short tracks and modified races as a kid, which is typical of upstate New York,” Walter said. “I went to my first race at Watkins Glen with my cousin when I was in high school. It was a NASCAR race, and was really the first big race I had ever been to. “I remember realizing how professional the sport was. Going to that race, at that time, opened my mind to a potential career avenue that I hadn’t thought of before.” After graduating from Cornell in 1993, Walter made the move from New York to North Carolina, where he found job opportunities in the growing sport of NASCAR. Although engineers weren’t nearly as in demand as they are today, Walter wasn't deterred from pursuing a job in the industry. “I never really thought of myself as an outsider when I first moved down (to North Carolina)," Walter said. "Even in 1993, there were crew guys from all over the country here. "I actually had to downplay the fact that I had an engineering degree. I made it a point to work from the ground up to learn more about the cars and to earn the respect of the crew guys around me." Walter knew he had to prove himself -- and the hard work has paid off. So far this season, he's led the National Guard Chevrolet team to six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s with driver Casey Mears. "Engineers weren’t nearly as respected then as they are now in this sport and I didn’t want to be seen as the guy who just sits behind a desk all day," Walter said. "I wanted to get my hands dirty with everyone else."