The driver, crew chief, and over-the-wall crew are given much of the credit when a team does well. Behind those individuals, though, there is a group working just as hard to get the job done.
Scott Simmons is one of those, working as the tire specialist on Matt Crafton’s No. 88 Toyota Tundra at ThorSport Racing. He assumed the role after joining the organization last January.
“It takes a lot of focus and hard work to be able to keep up with the constantly evolving changes the crew chief wants to make, and you have to have a lot of patience,” he told POPULAR SPEED.
During race weekends, the role of tire specialist involves working closely with the crew chief, Carl Joiner.
“I relay all the information that I gather from all of our tires to him, and he and the engineers make all the strategy calls,” Simmons said. “I just implement the changes that they want to make, tire pressure wise, set them, and even change some tires around during the race. Other than that, they make all the calls.”
The addition of the caution clock is already changing things, slightly, and a hurdle that Simmons recognizes they will have to overcome each week.
“It is definitely going to play a big difference in the way that we’re going to pit, and the strategy that the crew chief’s are going to use to try and get the next edge on the field,” he said. “I think it’ll be good. So far, it’s had its up and downs, but we’ll just have to see how the season goes.”
During the week at the shop, Simmons’ role consists of imputing the data into the system so the crew chief, car chief, and engineers can prepare for the following week. Outside of that, Simmons is a shop mechanic, helping to maintain vehicles and looking after the pit boxes.
Simmons journey to working at ThorSport Racing started in Ontario, Canada, where his interest in racing formed at a young age as he watched previous generations race modifieds. He didn’t begin racing, though, until he was 15 as he played baseball and hockey growing up. After starting in a go-kart, he progressed to racing a mini stock at Flamboro Speedway with Spira Racing.
“I built my own racecar with the help of Ken Spira and Randy Shaw, and everybody else at Spira Racing team,” Simmons said. “I raced with them for three years, and then tried to get my feet into the door at ThorSport. I ended up starting there at the end of January 2015.”
During his time behind the wheel, Simmons scored couple of race wins, highlighted by his first feature victory in 2014.
“That was pretty special,” he said. “It came full circle with buying the car, rebuilding it – spent 18 months rebuilding the car that shouldn’t been a racecar – and with the help of everybody at Spira, got it to be competitive. It was just unbelievable once I crossed the checkered flag.”
The experience from the short tracks helped in paving the way for Simmons as he has taken those lessons forward with him.
“You get to meet a lot of cool people, make a lot of friends, and learn all kind of different racecars and set-ups and techniques for drivers, crew members,” he said. “It’s definitely a great stepping stone to learn and take it wherever you want.
“If you want to go big, just work hard and try to get every opportunity that you can to work with whomever possible.”
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