Tim Fedewa, Spotter for Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
How did you get started spotting in NASCAR?
I was running a Busch car, kind of at the back end of my career, so I knew I needed to figure out something to keep food on the table. It just came about that Bill Elliott needed some help on Sundays. Kristine Curley (PR) was working for Evernham at the time, we were friends. That's kind of how I got going. Just kind of did it part time for different teams. Like I said, I knew my driving career was going down so I knew I better do something and that evolved into a job spotting.
Do you have any other duties with the team?
Not really. I help out and do what I can but in today's world there are a lot of people that just have their specialty. I spot for Stewart-Haas but at the track on the weekends I also will do an XFINITY, Truck, ARCA, K&N race. Whatever is on the track, I'm spotting for that as well. I work with JR Motorsports, the 88 car for (Alex) Bowman when he drives it; sometimes for Josh Berry. But when the other Sprint Cup drivers get in it, they have their spotters. And that makes sense. I'll spot for Spencer Gallagher in the Truck Series, Noah Gragson in the K&N Series, Chad Finley in ARCA. We do whatever is here. That's how we make our living. The more races the better, actually.
How long have you been spotting for Kevin?
Since he started with the 4 car in 2014, so this is my third year. I was with (Marcos) Ambrose before at Richard Petty Motorsports. When they started this deal at SHR, I came over.
You mentioned working with Bill Elliott earlier, was that the first time as a spotter?
I might have done a little bit before then but I don't think I did a whole lot because I was still driving. I might have helped a few guys up on the roof a couple of times. But I was kind of thrown into it in Sprint Cup. It couldn't have worked out better for me because Bill, he didn’t need a spotter. He was so seasoned and good that I was just up there making noise in his ear, probably. But for me it was a good experience that I had a guy like him. If I had a rookie that really needed my assistance at the time I probably wouldn't have been much help. But for me it worked out well because Bill … he was awesome.
What's been the most bizarre thing you've witnessed from the spotters' stand?
Probably the (Juan Pablo) Montoya deal (at Daytona). That was … with it being a night race and flaming up like that, it was pretty surreal.
What's been your most memorable experience as a spotter?
Miami when we won the race and won the championship. There was a lot of stress that day for everybody. The Chase brings a lot of stress, each race you move on and advance the stress level for the team advances, as well. I just remember thinking that day, "Everybody has to do their own thing and do it right." To have Kevin win the race and the championship, it was (great).
What's one thing fans might not realize about your job duties?
I guess being away from your family. For anybody in racing, that's the hardest part. You have different struggles from day to day in your job but as far as being on the roof and working the races, restarts are tough. You can't predict what's going to happen. You try to predict it in your head and you get in trouble. So I just go into every restart with an open mind. You think you know the tendencies of the other drivers but that's where you get in trouble. You think, "OK, this guy doesn't like going to the bottom (of the track); guys like Kyle (Busch) or Kurt (Busch), if they can get to the top and go, they're going to go." But you think that and it's in your head but if that doesn't happen, you stumble on your words … I just kind of try to go in there and tell 'em what's happening. Just give them the best picture you can.
Which driver would make a good spotter and why?
I can tell you that Kevin has owned his own team; he's watched it from above and he is just really smart. I always tell everybody that if I had had somebody like Kevin helping me when I drove, I'd probably still be driving or would have had a longer career anyway because he's so smart. Not only as a driver. Usually when I tell him something, he already knows it. He's already got it figured out. I'm Captain Obvious, that's what I call myself. Between him and Bill, as far as knowing everything about not just driving but who has what tires, what strategy they're thinking, he's already thinking ahead and got that figured out.
Do you have a favorite track?
I like Bristol. Because everything happens so quick, you're talking all the time. It is what it is. Clear is clear and you can't take it back. If you get them in a hole you better hope that it's there. We stand down in Turn 1 and I can see the whole track. I don't have to move my head back and forth like I would if I'm at the start/finish line, so I've got a good view of it. You can still get in trouble there and I have as a spotter – a couple of years ago we were coming off (Turn) 4 and there was a wreck in 1 and by the time you see it and say it, we still got in it. It's a tough race track when wrecks happen. But as far as when you’re running good and passing cars, it's a blast.
Superspeedway racing is fun, it's different. You're talking a lot, always trying to figure out the best input to give your driver. It's a challenge, there's a lot going on.
What is one thing the average fan might not realize about your job?
Probably just how serious we take it. It's stressful for sure. Yeah, we're here racing but we put our heart and souls into it. It's like I'm driving the car every weekend. I take it that serious. Nowadays, spotters are thought of as a competitive advantage – what can we do for the team to make it better? In all reality, we're there to keep Kevin or whoever safe. That's the bottom line so that's the stressful part. That's why we’re up there, to keep everybody safe. So whatever we do to get a competitive advantage, keeping your driver, and the other drivers, safe is still the priority.
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