Study: NASCAR drivers, CEOs share similar talents

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NASCAR drivers are known for trading paint, spinning out rivals and are seemingly always ready for a fight.

And those are just some of the same elements that NASCAR drivers share with CEO’s of some of the best middle-market companies, according to a story on AllCapCorp.com.

Citing a study by Statistic Brain that compares what would seem like diametrically opposite fields, AllCapCorp.com noted “accomplished CEOs and NASCAR drivers are often recognized as the top performers in their respective industries, and they possess the courage to make complex decisions when challenges arise.”

Here are the top 6 shared similarities between those driving companies and those driving stock cars:

1. Cultivate the right combination of strategic talent to propel them to victory.

The study cited six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Chad Knaus for their ability to recruit and hire the most talented and successful personnel “to do one thing – WIN.”

2. Possess the perseverance to rise from the ashes.

The example that Statistic Brain cited here is the resurgence of 2004 Cup champ Kurt Busch, who lost his ride with Team Penske after the 2011 season and how he’s rebuilt himself and his career since.

As Statistic Brain noted, “Like many middle-market CEOs, ‘the Outlaw’ wasn’t ready to give up his dreams when the world thought he was finished. Recognizing that his setback was driven by his own limiting behavior, he gave himself a ‘tune-up.’ … When facing such adversity, top CEOs act no differently. They are willing to work hard and develop creative solutions that allow them to overcome the most difficult of challenges.”

3. Learn from their mistakes.

The elder Busch brother was again cited, along with A.J. Allmendinger, who was suspended by NASCAR for failing a drug test in 2012.

Said Statistic Brain, “Savvy CEOs also understand the importance of learning from their mistakes and making adjustments when major setbacks ensue.”

4. Know that sometimes it pays to be friendly with the competition.

It’s better for drivers to be friends than enemies in NASCAR, because you can never have enough friends, particularly at places like Daytona and Talladega, where the nature of restrictor plate racing has led to a “one for all, all for one” mentality for many drivers.

It’s there that you see Ford drivers work with Toyota drivers, Chevy drivers with their Ford counterparts, and so forth.

“The same holds true for top CEOs who make alliances with the competition or seek synergy through middle-market mergers and acquisitions,” Statistic Brain said. “The best CEOs recognize their firm’s key strengths and weaknesses, as well as those of other players in their industry. This insight allows them to maintain integral relationships that drive optimum results and secure long-term success.”

5. It’s a family affair.

Not only is NASCAR still owned and operated by the France family, the sense of family as a whole is one of the most important elements of the sport.

That’s why so many drivers follow in the footsteps of their own racing fathers, with famous surnames such as Earnhardt, Elliott, Jarrett, Petty and more. Likewise, family is a key component of fandom in the sport, with oftentimes three generations of families attending races together at tracks around the country – or watching races together on TV at their own homes.

Said Statistic Brain, “Like NASCAR, many middle-market CEOs treat their businesses like a family, where multiple family members work together to run a company and make decisions about its future.”

6. Know it’s best to go out on top.

NASCAR drivers go through a lot in their careers. But the most difficult time is when they decide to hang up their firesuit for the final time and retire from full-time driving.

The Statistic Brain study cited Mark Martin and a story about him by FoxSports.com in 2013, in which Martin said, “No matter how hard you work at it, eventually Father Time will extract its toll from your skills.”

Added Statistic Brain, “Smart business owners know that the best time to sell is when their business is still going strong, and they can offer valuable insight during a transition to new ownership. They have a solid exit strategy in place, and are ready to pull the trigger and sell a business when the time is right.”

Unfortunately, some drivers remain in the game far too long and by the time they eventually do retire, many of their earlier-career successes and achievements are forgotten and replaced by the difficult struggles those same drivers had getting to their end-game.

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NHRA: Antron Brown on verge of earning 50th career Top Fuel win this weekend at Phoenix

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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When you’re used to winning championships – like three in the previous five seasons – any other season finish is disappointing.

That’s kind of how NHRA Top Fuel dragster driver Antron Brown looked at his fourth-place showing in the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

“At the end of the day, we had a very competitive season last year and made it to 10 final rounds,” Brown said. “But we got into the Countdown (NHRA’s six-race playoffs) and our timing was off.

“We struggled with a lot of problems we don’t usually have. Now it’s time for a new chapter for this team and time to get better. This is a new beginning for us and it’s going to be fun and exciting and we’re coming after them.”

Antron Brown hugs the NHRA Top Fuel championship trophy after winning it in 2016. (Photo by David Allio/Icon Sportswire)

Brown had a good start to 2018, reaching the semifinals before losing to Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher in the season-opening Lucas Oil Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

“We had a great performance at Pomona and I couldn’t be more proud of what our Matco/Toyota guys did,” Brown said. “Now we are going to Phoenix where we’ve won three times (2009, 2012 and 2014, and was runner-up in 2011) and we’ll just try to hit it hard and get a fourth.”

Next up on the NHRA 24-race national event circuit is the second race of the season, this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix (Chandler, Arizona).

Brown has definite plans to make it four wins in Phoenix. And if he does that Sunday, he’ll set a significant career milestone: it would be his 50th career win driving a Top Fueler and the 66th win overall (he won 16 races in Pro Stock Motorcycle before shifting from two to four wheels).

In so doing, Brown would become only the fourth Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to hit the 50-win mark. The others are Tony Schumacher (83), Larry Dixon (62) and Joe Amato (52).

This will be the second time Brown has been racing in Phoenix this month. He was part of the preseason test there for Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock cars a week before the season began.

“Testing went really well there,” said Brown, leaving him optimistic that he can reach victory circle once again. “I love going back to Phoenix.”

Brown has been the most dominant driver in NHRA Top Fuel competition since 2012, winning more than twice the number of races (34) than the next most successful Top Fuel driver (16 by Schumacher) in that time period.

He also has a 71 percent overall win percentage, which exceeds both eight-time Top Fuel champ Schumacher and 16-time Funny Car champ John Force.

“I’m just pumped up, feeling like we’ve got some unfinished business from last year,” Brown said. “We had a good outing but didn’t close the deal, so this year, we’re looking forward to getting back there and getting off to a great start.”

NOTES: Brown will serve as honorary pace car driver for the March 4th Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas. He’ll be joined by teammates Matt Hagan and Leah Pritchett in a weekend full of activities that they’ll all be involved in.

“I’m really excited,” Brown said. “It’s going to be my first experience as a pace car driver, and I’m just super stoked to go out there and drive the Camry pace car for Pennzoil and start those NASCAR boys off the right way. Throttle down, pedal to the metal. I just want them to get off to a great start.”

Brown has won four times at The Strip, the drag strip adjacent to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity,” he said. “It’s an honor to be out there with such talented drivers, and I know I’m going to really enjoy watching our NASCAR counterparts.”

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