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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MRTI: Barber Motorsports Park Preview

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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After a month break, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires is back in action this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, with two of its series tacking the 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama.

Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires have double-headers this weekend, with Pro Mazda returning to Barber after not running there last year.

The season-opening weekend in St. Petersburg was a tale of two completely different stories, with two different winners – Pato O’Ward and Santi Urrutia – and more than a fair bit of chaos for Indy Lights, while Pro Mazda saw Rinus Veekay sweep the weekend.

Talking points for both series heading into Barber are below.

Indy Lights

Santi Urrutia heads to Barber leading the Indy Lights championship on the strength of finishes of second and first in St. Petersburg. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Santi Urrutia displayed great patience at St. Petersburg, finishing second in Race 1 and winning Race 2 after rivals like O’Ward and Colton Herta faltered. However, Barber has not been one of his better tracks, with finishes of 11th, 15th, and 13th in three of his four Indy Lights starts. Yet, he did win Race 2 at Barber 2016, so he has had success there before, and he will be one of the favorites heading into the weekend.
  • Pato O’Ward looks poised to be a title contender in 2018 and will look to avenge a somewhat disappointing outing at St. Petersburg. O’Ward had the speed to sweep the weekend, winning Race 1 handily and dominating Race 2, but a mistake late in the race saw him overshoot Turn 4 and briefly stall before he could rejoin, relegating him to seventh. If O’Ward can show the pace he showed at St. Pete, he might end up being the man to beat.
  • Colton Herta will look to rebound from a St. Pete weekend in which he flashed the speed that caught everyone’s attention last year, but also committed the same mistakes that ultimately prevented him from taking a championship. After finishing third in Race 1, Herta crashed while chasing then leader O’Ward in Race 2. Herta won Race 2 at Barber last year, and getting another win this weekend, along with staying mistake free, would go a long way to erasing his problems from St. Pete.
  • Aaron Telitz is also looking to rebound after a down weekend, as his St. Petersburg weekend lasted all of two corners across both races – he won the Pole for Race 1, but crashed in Race 2 qualifying, and the Belardi Auto Racing team could not repair the car to allow him to race. After the team borrowed a chassis from Carlin for Race 2, Telitz get collected with Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni right off the start, and he crashed again, this time in Turn 2. Telitz finished on the podium at Barber in 2016, the year he won the Pro Mazda championship, and he’ll look for more of the same this weekend.

Pro Mazda

Rinus VeeKay swept the Pro Mazda weekend in St. Petersburg. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Rinus Veekay had a perfect weekend to open the Pro Mazda season. The Juncos Racing driver outdueled Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson for the Race 1 victory, and then ran away with Race 2 to complete the weekend sweep. Veekay was expected to be a title contender after moving up to Pro Mazda in 2018, and if he can repeat his St. Pete performance, then he may leave Barber as the heavy favorite in the championship.
  • Not to be forgotten, Parker Thompson sits second in the Pro Mazda title chase, and looks to avenge losing out to Veekay in St. Pete Race 1, and then fading somewhat to finish fifth in Race 2. Thompson was the only driver to regularly challenge Veekay and Oliver Askew in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season, and he and Exclusive Autosport have adapted nicely to the new Tatuus PM-18. If they can show the same form at Barber, and then finish the job with at least one trip to Victory Lane, then it could set the stage for another titanic Pro Mazda championship fight.
  • Last year’s USF2000 champion Oliver Askew had a quiet weekend in St. Pete, finishing fifth and sixth in the two races. He swept the Barber races in USF2000 last year, and will need a similar performance to vault himself forward from his current place of sixth in the standings.
  • Carlos Cunha and David Malukas head to Barber third and fourth in the championship after solid St. Pete weekends – Cunha had finishes of fourth and third, while Malukas had finishes of seventh and second. Neither was necessarily looked at as a title combatant entering 2018, but repeat performances in Barber could vault them into title contention.

A full weekend schedule, including the Mazda Road to Indy sessions, can be viewed here.

**Note: NBCSN will broadcast Sunday’s Indy Lights race (Race 2 from the weekend) on Monday, April 23.**

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