CONCORD, N.C. - In the seventh episode of "On the Road," presented by Valvoline, fans get an up-close look at what a race weekend is like through the eyes of No. 24 car chief, Tyler Jones.
What does the job of car chief entail? Jones describes his role as "the bridge between the engineers, the crew chief and the mechanic. I have a detailed list of all the stuff that has to be done on the car and the stuff that is really important for inspection. As well as making sure that at the end of the day we’ve gotten every ounce of speed that we can out of this car."
Hendrick Motorsports team president and general manager Jeff Andrews borrows from another sport to explain the car chief’s significance and importance.
"The car chief is kind of like the quarterback of the team," Andrews said. "I would use the crew chief as the head coach and the car chief is the person who is executing not only during the weekend but back here at the shop. They keep the group of mechanics and road crew that go with that car motivated and keeping them focused on the job and task at hand."
This installment follows Jones at the Chicago Street Course. The race, which took place on the streets of downtown Chicago, was the first of its kind for NASCAR and that element presented some unique logistics. For example, parts of the streets for the actual track were still in use up to the day before the race.
At the track, Jones leads the team through inspection and spends a lot of time talking to officials. If an issue arises, he works to figure out how best to address it and make sure that the car is ready to go. During practice, Jones relays to the team about what part of the car to work on. At Chicago, the No. 24 took on some damage and he oversaw the changing of the toe link on the car.
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Jones is more hands-on with the car, the mechanics and making sure that the crew is ready for the adjustments, while crew chief Rudy Fugle is more hands-on with the engineers, the setup and the race strategy.
"Tyler’s passion is huge," Fugle said. "He's not going to be outworked. He's always in the middle of anything. He's not afraid of anything. He's a good leader of the group and makes our team go."
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When the race gets underway, Jones stays in close communication with Fugle and engineer Brandon McSwain. In the event of damage, he helps to come up with a plan for the team to work through. The team finished 13th in the inaugural race on the Chicago Street Course.
"Unfortunately, we didn’t run quite as good as we wanted to," Jones said. "When the race is over on Sunday, whether it is a victory for us or we are out of the race, I think some of it is just saying, 'hey, it’s Monday. It's the next week. It's time to move on to the next race.'"
The team went on to rebound in a big way the following weekend with a win at Atlanta Motor Speedway. That marked the fourth victory of the season for Byron and the No. 24 team.
RELATED: Recap Byron's season to date and his playoff outlook
"We are not just one driver, one crew chief and one car chief," Jones said. "Everybody knows that they have an important role. One thing I specifically tell our group is there’s no one person who is more important than the next. I think that really drives home from top to bottom that everybody knows that the little bit that they touch this car is a huge part of its success. It is a team sport and everybody is fully involved in this group."
The full episode is available on Hendrick Motorsports’ YouTube channel and digital platforms.
The 10-episode series offers an up-close look and follows a variety of team employees as they go about their jobs over a race weekend. The series will highlight the importance of those positions within the success of the team.
"When people look at Hendrick Motorsports, they see drivers and teams bringing home race wins, trophies and championships," team vice chairman Jeff Gordon says in the teaser for the series that you can watch here.
"Behind all that, the unsung heroes. The people back at the shop. The army of people on the road 38 weeks a year. Those people are what make us successful."
Catch up on past episodes below.
Episode 6: Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Episode 5: Ashly Ennis, at-track public relations manager/No. 24 team PR rep
Episode 4: Rudy Fugle, No. 24 crew chief
Episode 3: Tyler Monn, No. 5 spotter
Episode 2: Lisa Smokstad, lead tire specialist
Episode 1: Brian Walsh, trackside network engineer
UPCOMING EPISODES (DATES SUBJECT TO CHANGE)
Episode 8: Oct. 5
Episode 9: Oct. 19
Episode 10: Nov. 16