NASCAR is NASCAR and sports cars are sports cars – and never the two shall meet, right?
But at the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, that demarcation line is getting more blurry than ever.
Two of the best spotters in NASCAR will be lending their eyes and (hopefully) calming voices on the team radio in this year’s Rolex 24.
Tim Fedewa, himself a former NASCAR driver and primary spotter for reigning 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, will give this sports car thing a whirl for a second time, having also done so in last year’s Rolex.
Also, Tyler Green, who has served as Aric Almirola’s spotter the last five years – including for Almirola’s first career Cup win last summer in the Coke Zero 400 at DIS – will also be for a second straight year at the Rolex.
Both Fedewa and Green will be part of a team for Mazda drivers, that also includes Mazda primary spotter Chris Long (who works full-time with Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team), as well as Daniel Tremblay, son of Mazda SpeedSource team owner and driver, Sylvain Tremblay.
“It is a lot tougher than I had imagined,” Fedewa said in a Mazda Racing media release. “It really keeps you on your toes.
“I’m used to spotting where the cars on the track are all similar, and everyone runs pretty close to the same speed. For the (Rolex) 24, a spotter has to use a lot more knowledge because of multiple drivers, and the different classes and strategies involved.
“They all have different speeds and attributes, so I need to be aware of that at all times.”
Spotters work four-hour shifts during the race.
“We will do four hours on, and four off,” Green said. “We’re used to long days on the spotter stand at NASCAR races, but this is like doing three 500-mile Cup races in one day.
“You try to relax and sleep when you’re off, but it’s not easy. There’s always a lag of 30 minutes or more before you’re able to get to sleep.”
Spotters must be like postal carriers in the 24, in a sense. Neither gloom, nor dark, nor storms, nor chills will keep them from their appointed rounds in keeping their respective drivers safe and out of trouble.
“It’s pretty straightforward in the daytime,” Fedewa said. “But, it’s not lit up like a NASCAR race when it’s dark. So, you have to focus that much more.
“It can be cold with fog or rain, and you do get tired, but you have to stay focused on the car and work with the crew on whatever they need. Watching it on TV is one thing, but there is so much more involved than I imagined.”
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