Chevy racing-nascar–Rudy fugle


RUDY FUGLE, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS CREW CHIEF FOR WILLIAM BYRON AND THE NO. 24 CAMARO ZL1 1LE TEAM met with media via teleconference and discussed his new role beginning in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series. Full Transcript: TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT WILLIAM BYRON AND WHAT YOU THINK YOU LEARNED EARLY-ON FROM HIM THAT YOU CAN APPLY NOW TO A MORE CONFIDENT WILLIAM BYRON?“Our year of working together, I think one of the biggest things was just that you always learn how to push somebody and how to push their button the right way and how to motivate, encourage, and read their emotions. And that’s one thing about him. We can be pretty real with each other. I’m a pretty straightforward guy and William takes that really well. So, we have a really good communication style and it’s easy to be friends with him. “
WILLIAM BYRON HAS SO MANY ATTRIBUTES THAT YOU WERE LIKELY ONE OF THE FIRST TO DISCOVER. WE’RE SEEING HIS TALENTS NOW. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THE WILLIAM BYRON YOU KNOW AND WHAT YOU THINK YOU CAN DO TOGETHER IN THE CUP SERIES?“I think there’s a whole bunch more talent to be seen. He’s done a really good job for the past three years gaining experience and having good runs; but I think there’s so much more. If you get to year two or three, you’ve kind of done everything at least one time; even though I’m new, the team is the same. And, I’m not really new because we know how to communicate with each other. The spotter is the same. It’s going to be a really good year. I think we’re going to start off being able to communicate and make the car better as we go and make good decisions. It’s so much about building this relationship and the cars at the shop now that we’re not having practice very often that we can sit and have meetings like we used to have and talk about all the things that didn’t go right last year and how we can make it better. I think I can apply those things of the race car with all the smart people here at Hendrick Motorsports and then make it go.”
YOU MENTIONED BACK IN 2016 AND YOU WORKING WITH WILLIAM BYRON (NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES), WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF HIM IN GETTING TO KNOW HIM AND WHAT HE WAS ALL ABOUT?“Our first meeting in the office-season, where we were basically trying to decide who was going to work with William and who was going to work with whom, we were having some dinner meetings and going over things and just seeing what fit. Instantly he knew a lot more about the races that we were running and the season that we had the past year and all the races, and he was very knowledgeable about everything that a lot of young guys don’t have that depth of knowledge. And then as we started some races, he just realized the drive and the hunger that he’s got and that he’s self-driven, and whatnot. He’s just always kept getting better. It’s really fun to work with him because everybody on the team wants him to succeed. They want to do everything they can for him to make sure he succeeds. He’s a very likable person and it makes everybody on the team do whatever they can to make sure we’re all successful.”
WILLIAM BYRON TALKED ABOUT KIND OF MAKING A JUMP THIS YEAR FROM BEING A GUY WHO JUST WINS RACE AND CHASE ELLIOTT HAS KIND OF RAISED THE BAR FOR SOME OF THAT. WHAT’S IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET TO THAT NEXT LEVEL WHERE HE’S A CONTENDER WEEK IN AND WEEK OUT AND CAN SCRATCH THE WIN COLUMN MORE THAN ONCE A YEAR?“It’s applying all the knowledge from last year and applying some of the things that the No. 9 (Elliott) did well and just making good decisions on those things. It’s really hard to do. But, it’s not that many steps. It’s really only a couple of small, simple things that I think will get us there. So, discovering what those things are and doing them consistently; it’s just communication, which we’re doing really well on the No. 24 team right now. William was in here all morning long just going over stuff. It’s December 3rd so all that stuff is starting well. Things are going well. I think that, just in ourselves, and how good of cars we have here, we execute better than some of those things with his experience and my knowledge of William and how we can apply it to the team. Just three, four, or five spots weekly and that’s going to lead to more wins and easier to make it into the Playoffs and all those things that make the things easier to be aggressive and get those wins, three or four wins a year, or more, you know?”
HOW MANY PEOPLE WORK ON THE NO. 24 CAR? DO YOU KNOW? WERE YOU ABLE TO BRING ANYBODY? ARE YOU TRYING TO LEARN WILLIAM ON THE CUP-SIDE, BUT ALL THE PEOPLE THAT YOU’RE WORKING WITH?“I didn’t bring anybody with me. So, I was the new transplant, right? As Chad (Knaus) was showing me around the entire campus on day one, I ended-up knowing more than half the people. I either went to college with them or worked with them previously, or knew them from some race track somewhere. That’s one thing good about Kyle (Busch) is we were racing something somewhere all the time and you get to meet a lot of people. So, it ended-up being not as bad as I originally thought it might be in meeting new people. So, everybody on the No. 24, the majority of them were there last year. And I’m the new guy. And that’s okay. They’re showing me the ropes and everything they’re doing and I’m picking holes or what could be holes in the thing because I’m seeing it a different way than they’ve looked at it and trying to come up with a new way to solve a problem.”
HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE CLASH AND DO YOU LOOK AT IT LIKE OKAY, BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY ROAD COURSES ON THE SCHEDULE THIS IS A THING TO LEARN FOR LATER IN THE YEAR? OR, DO YOU LOOK AT IT LIKE YOU COULD RACE THERE OR RACE MORE ROAD COURSES AS THINGS GET SWITCHED AROUND?“Definitely. I think we all see that potential of what’s going to happen now and how good the country gets; and we know two of our road courses are in places where we couldn’t race last year. So there’s always that potential for something to get postponed or cancelled or moved to Daytona because that’s an easy fit. So, there’s definitely trying to build a notebook there; you’re also building notebooks for the Roval and a lot of these other road course races. So, the Clash is going to be fun. We have a plan of how Hendrick Motorsports has been doing things really well at the road course races. And then okay, there’s our Plan B and Plan C to how we beat Chase (Elliott) and how we beat the next people. So, Chase, the No. 9 team, was clearly the best road course team this year. But that doesn’t mean that everybody else isn’t working hard as well. So, just trying to not just sit there, but to go and just see if we can think of something better and then prove that it’s better before we go to the track, and say, are we going to try something new or try the same old stuff? So, there’s a lot to the Clash. And then there’s also just element of the fact that we’ve got a non-points event that I can have a Cup race at as a crew chief and the team can work together. William and I can work together and communicate and really, it is what it is. We all want to win. It’s a non-points even to it’s almost a dry run, or practice run if you take it.”
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES GOING TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS? COULD IT BE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT YOU’RE USED TO?“Yeah, there’s a lot of change here. It is a big place. There’s lots of buildings and lots of people. The biggest thing is to not let yourself get overwhelmed since there are moments when I feel like there’s a lot to do and a lot to learn. But then, if you take a step back, you realize how many smart people are at each one of these departments and leading them and the experience they have; and all the experience to lean on (like) these other crew chiefs and Chad Knaus and Jeff Gordon. Let’s just take a step back and take one thing at a time and just not make it too complicated. So, that’s the biggest thing. It can get big. It can get complicated. But all the pieces are here. It’s just my job to manage it. When you move too fast or think about it too much, it gets overwhelming. But if you just tackle one thing at a time, it’s been great.”
ARE YOU GOING TO TRY TO USE THAT SAME PHILOSOPHY WITH WILLIAM? THAT COULD BE OVERWHELMING FOR A YOUNG MAN AS WELL“Yeah, I think that’s part of it. William does a great job of just focusing on what he can do to be his best and to maximize his potential. He’s always done that. And he didn’t care who he was racing against. It didn’t feel like oh, I’ve got to drive harder because I’m racing Kyle in the Trucks this week or I’m racing Brad Keselowski in Xfinity this week. He always did a good job of just making sure he was performing his best. But yeah, there’s always a perspective that we need to put ourselves into and be reminded of. All we can do is just focus on what we can today leading up to this week’s race, and then we start over. There’s definitely a little process, a schedule, and how we attack each day. That kind of is how I like to approach things and I’m going to try to bring him with me on that and how we do it week in and week out.”
AS YOU EMBARK ON THIS NEW GIG, MY FIRST THOUGHT IS WHAT KIND OF RESOURCES WILL YOU HAVE AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS WITH CHAD KNAUS OVERSEEING THE COMPETITION-SIDE OF THINGS?“It’s great. Anytime you’re stepping up to a new role or a different level, it’s great to have somebody with that much success and experience, that’s got that much invested in Hendrick Motorsports to help make sure you’re successful. So, he’s got as much invested in this, and way more years than I do for the No. 24 to go fast and win races and compete for a championship. So, I’ve found that I’ve been lucky as I’ve moved up the ranks along the way that I’ve kind of had a mentor-type person at different levels where it’s helped me. So, I’ve had that experience before. I’m going to use him to help me as much as possible.”
IS THERE A SENSE OF INTIMIDATION, AS WELL? ARE YOU MORE IN SPONGE-MODE IN LISTENING TO EVERYTHING HE HAS TO SAY AND IN EXCHANGE OF IDEAS? HOW IS THAT GOING TO WORK?’“Naturally, I think I’m an inquisitive person and I’m confident in what I know. I’m definitely going to listen more than I speak when I speak to somebody like that, but I think that’s just respect, right? So, you have a huge amount of respect for people and for somebody that’s done what Chad has done. He’s a legend; just to even say it like that, he just is. You figure out how to talk to him and be respectful and I don’t mean that in the wrong way. What’s the best way to be prepared to get somebody’s time and then ask the inquisitive questions the right way I guess, is the right way to say that.”
THERE ARE MANY THINGS TO DO BETWEEN NOW AND THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON. WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE TO CALL A RACE? IS IT LIKE A RACE IS A RACE? OR, IS IT SOMETHING YOU’LL HAVE TO ADJUST TO? DO YOU HAVE TO ANALYZE WHAT SOME OF THE OTHER CREW CHIEFS DO TO KNOW THE COMPETITION EVEN BETTER?“Yeah, I’ve always done that. I think even at the Truck Series level, I’m watching the best people; and they might not even run the best but sometimes they make the best calls, or they make some good things. You’re watching every series almost every weekend just to learn how to be really good, you know? If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing better. I’m always studying and paying attention to what everybody is doing. But races are races. They’re longer. There’s going to be more strategy calls in every stage. They’re all different. More sets of tires. More chances for adjustments; and actually, different adjustments in some ways, too, and stuff like that. We’ll be prepared. But that’s the most exciting part. The most fun part of my job is that Adrenalin of calling races and sitting on the box. There’s a lot of fun things about being a crew chief. But that’s why we put in the hours is to be able to compete in the actual race. It makes it fun. And that rush and that moment of what you’re going to do when the caution comes out when you didn’t expect it to and that’s what drives us to do what we do. So that’s the most exciting thing.”
WHAT IS ON YOUR AGENDA? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS?“I am trying to soak up as much information as fast as I can so that I can have intelligent conversations about this specific race car that we’re racing weekly. That’s the biggest thing. I feel like the racing-side of things is similar even from a Truck to a car.  The William and myself relationship doesn’t need a ton of work. It will come along. It’s just the cars are different aero and suspension and different things than the Trucks I’ve worked on. When you work with a team long enough, all that stuff is embedded in your brain and you know everything like the back of your hand. So, I’m trying to make it where I know all that stuff as much as possible so I can help make those decisions and know as much as possible to make things better when I’m asked upon. So, that’s where I’ve been spending more of my hours. And getting to know everybody is a big part of it during the normal hours and then before normal work hours and after normal work hours I’m learning as much as I can.”
FOR MOST OF THE RACES NEXT YEAR, THERE WON’T BE MUCH PRACTICE OR QUALIFYING TO WORK ON THINGS. DO YOU GIVE YOURSELF A GRACE PERIOD GOING INTO NEXT YEAR OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE WITH ALL THE TIME YOU’VE WORKED TOGETHER YOU’LL BE READY TO GO?“Yeah, I think we’re planning on starting the year strong and going. There might be some things that come up that it’s like man, I didn’t think I needed to know that, or I messed that up or whatnot. But for the most part, I feel like we’re going to be ready to go. Our in-race communication is going to be good. Our in-race adjustments, there are lots of smart people here to help me make those decisions. We’ve got a good pit crew. Hendrick Motorsports is putting out a good Camaro. So, I think we should be ready to go.”