Fugle and Byron clicking quick of their second time round
Rudy Fugle is off to an excellent begin as a NASCAR Cup Collection crew chief with the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports staff. Fugle and his driver William Byron received the third race of the season and are third in factors because the sequence takes a break for the Summer season Olympics. Past these highlights, Fugle is simply having fun with the problem that comes along with his function in NASCAR’s prime sequence, and the way all the pieces is tougher. He’s additionally nonetheless getting used to the races being for much longer.
“There are weeks I stroll in, and I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, that is going to take without end,’” Fugle instructed RACER. “5 hundred miles at Atlanta is a protracted race. 600 miles on the Coke 600 was a protracted race. I can’t think about doing it once they didn’t have levels as a result of it’s like, OK, right here is our first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter. In case you did 400 laps with out levels — a unique world.”
It’s the one nitpick, if you wish to name it that, that Fugle has along with his new place. He and Byron, whom he had a earlier relationship with within the Tenting World Truck Collection years in the past, are chugging proper alongside. Byron has the second-most top-10 finishes within the sequence, and this yr is extra about Fugle getting his bearings than needing to construct a staff.
Fugle took the job with Hendrick after eight years within the Truck Collection, the place he received 28 races and two championships. The 2 garages are “completely completely different,” mentioned Fugle, and there are nuances he’s studying with how Cup Collection director Jay Fabian oversees issues.
“Clearly, the way you examine the vehicles versus the vehicles is method completely different, so studying all these issues – and issues I didn’t even know you needed to be authorized for; issues like that,” mentioned Fugle. “You hopefully discover all these issues out earlier than you go to the monitor, however these are variations. What number of instances you undergo tech … for qualifying and the race, it’s all the time the identical. It’s a must to be totally authorized, however generally you get checked for various issues for pre-practice.
“The Cup storage, the automobile chiefs and the lead engineers have much more say in main the staff, so that you’re in a position to lean on these guys who’ve the expertise to assist greater than in all probability the Truck storage.”
Fugle isn’t afraid to lean on these round him. He’s executed so with Byron in a help-me-help-you setting. It helps make Byron really feel like he has a pivotal function within the decision-making course of. Byron’s maturity for the reason that final time the 2 labored collectively additionally goes a great distance, Fugle says, with Byron a lot better at and extra comfy in giving suggestions.
“I assume it’s extra of a fair relationship with regards to information, however we nonetheless work simply as laborious, and we simply know methods to speak to one another,” Fugle mentioned. “I’m in a position to say no matter I wish to say, and he’s in a position to say no matter he needs to say, and there’s no fear about I’m going to make him mad or unhappy or no matter. There’s none of that.”
Fugle manages extra folks on the staff facet and doesn’t need to be as hands-on as he was within the Truck Collection. Fugle additionally has extra engineers to consult with, and selections are not often one hundred pc from Fugle, however a dialogue. He has one engineer on the monitor and at the very least two again on the store to offer suggestions.
“I’m nonetheless studying a ton and absorbing extra data than a variety of different folks, however I feel it took virtually till Could,” Fugle mentioned of getting comfy within the function. “Getting by way of the West Coast swing plus a few races, then you’ve gotten a few brief monitor races like Martinsville and Richmond, and as soon as we bought by way of that, I felt like, OK, I understand how to run a street race, a superspeedway race, a 550 race, and a short-track race. Simply a few of the intricacies of issues we’ll combat in Cup vehicles as a substitute of Vehicles or Xfinity, the place I had extra expertise.
“However for essentially the most half, I really feel like we all know what we’re up in opposition to — we all know what we have now to be good at, we all know what William wants in these vehicles and simply need to fine-tune these little issues.”
That very same sort of mentality is how Fugle will lead his group into the ultimate few races of the common season. The final 4 races — Watkins Glen, Indy, Michigan, Daytona — in all probability received’t assist with the playoffs, however they’re locations Fugle needs to gather factors and add wins to pad any cushion they’ve. Fugle needs to maintain Byron within the prime three in factors for playoff seeding and momentum.
“Within the meantime, if we have now a failure or a wreck at Daytona or one thing that we all know it actually doesn’t have an effect on the way in which our automobile’s been handing, we all know we’re not going to go to these kinds of tracks (within the postseason),” mentioned Fugle. “The aim is, how can we set ourselves up? All of the work’s been executed for the playoffs; that was two months in the past. We went to a bunch of these tracks. Now we simply need to translate all these notes and knowledge into how we’re going to achieve success.”