Brennan Newberry started chasing his dream at seven-years-old. Newberry hails from Bakersfield, California – the same city which the Mears family materialized along with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, Kevin Harvick.
Newberry, 24, is racing for his father’s organization in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and K&N Pro Series East. The California kid is extremely likeable. His positive attitude combined with his drive to succeed has created a young man that wants to win. But luck has never quite been on his side.
“The best way to explain my season thus far in the K&N Pro Series and the Truck Series would be – we have speed everywhere we go. We are always fast,” Newberry said in a 35-minute interview with Speedway Digest on Monday.
“We know we have the speed, we just unfortunately – we have had not really any mechanical (problems), but it has been the wrong place at the wrong time. We had some really good runs taken from us and had some tough luck just like any race team. There are just small things that we are working on. I guess the best way to describe it is tough luck. We have the speed. We have the equipment. We have the team to go and perform well. Just putting it all together has been our weak point.”
The 24-year-old has developed a reputation which no driver wants. A reputation that every driver fears will come their way. But sporadically making 10 Camping World Truck Series starts in 2012, Newberry attempted to tame NASCAR’s third-tier division on a full-time basis in 2013. Besides winning the pole at Daytona to start out the season, his luck dwindled along with the team’s results. In 2013, he was involved in more than six accidents which brought on a change at NTS Motorsports this season.
His father partnered with Dwayne Gaulding, Gray Gaulding’s father. Since then, the team has moved into the now defunct shop which was utilized by Kevin Harvick Incorporated. The shop is approximately 70,000 square feet in size, providing an adequate-sized facility for the organization which also partnered with Joe Denette prior to the 2013 season.
“I guess when it comes down to it – we were coming from a brand new shop," Newberry explained. "We started in a small shop in Denver, North Carolina, which is where I ran my first part-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. When we moved into a bigger shop, that was the old Kevin Harvick Incorporated building, we put a whole new team together. I had Eddie Pardue as my crew chief. We were working with a whole bunch of new people. Whenever you can’t build the relationships you are trying to build, it takes a little bit of time. We were doing what was correct here and there, but it was a lot of research and a lot of building – just like what we are doing this year."
"We were running decent at Kentucky (drive shaft issue) and we actually had a lot of mechanical issues in 2013. We had problems with our transmissions, with our bell housing and we were trying to fix it every week. We found out ways to make it better. We always did our best to find the problems and find the solutions and really make our trucks better. That’s really how my truck seasons have been over the last three years. We always have the speed, and if we didn’t have the speed – we would keep working on it to make it better and get ourselves into a position where we can compete, but we haven’t been able to do so because like I said – the wrong place at the wrong time.”
In the midst of adversity with criticism and even a lack of confidence at times, Newberry and the entire NTS Motorsports crew have persevered. This year, they have teamed up to run Newberry in 12 CWTS events with Gaulding running 10. The rest of the races have gone to John King, Chase Pistone or former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winners, Austin Dillon and Justin Lofton. Having the use of drivers with experience has made a great difference in the team’s results this year.
Through seven races, NTS Motorsports has two top-fives and five top-10s – including a runner-up finish by Lofton at Texas. Gaulding is still adjusting to the Truck Series, but sits third in the K&N Pro Series East standings in the team’s second full-time car in that division.
“It makes you not want to have confidence at what you’re doing, but I know that with NTS Motorsports and the entire team that we put together since I started racing go-karts since I was nine and late models since I was eight," Newberry said. "We’ve built this thing from the ground up, and we continue to make our vehicles better and we get better each week at the race track. Every time we show up somewhere, we get better. That’s really what we do. We persevere. We make our trucks get better. I get better. Our team gets better every time we go out on the race track."
“I feel like Chevrolet has put a lot into it, NTS Motorsports and all of the other Chevrolet teams have been involved in making our program better. I think we are just going to continue to grow and get better. The fact that I have been to places before and I have my teammate, Gray Gaulding, he’s been running well. He is really fast and really hungry. I need to break down the trucks to – what do I need to feel?”
But a lot has gone on in Newberry’s young career since he graduated from Bakersfield College with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration.
Facing Criticism, but Gaining Confidence
A lot of people have written off Newberry because of his 22.5 average finish last season. However, there is plenty of hope for him.
“I feel like we just need to improve on luck (he laughed),” he told us. "The saying that I have been using is: you can work your butt off, but you can never buy luck. And that is true. I just feel like our trucks are improving. I feel like Chevrolet is improving and making changes and trying to do the right things as we go onto face the Toyota trucks, or even beating the other Chevrolet teams in the K&N Series. They have been a (very) big help to us."
With wrecks and mechanical failures occurring nearly on a weekly basis, it has been a rough journey for Newberry. Entering this season, the team had hopes of winning the K&N Pro Series East title with him, but those hopes are slowly diminishing with just two top-10s in nine races. That doesn’t hurt him, however, on the emotional side at least.
“How you deal with that takes a very strong mind," Newberry said on how he deals with criticism. "There are two different ways to look at it – you can criticize yourself. To me, criticism is a negative work. Criticism means that you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself, you are pointing fingers and you are going at it the wrong way. If you critic yourself and you say: okay, what did I do wrong? How can I make it better? You look at it at a whole different approach."
“People come up to me and call me bad names or say I messed up or man, you aren’t that good. You have negative people in anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s your job, or a sport or whatever. Unfortunately, you have to deal with negative people every day. You have to deal with negative people from the media, from other crews and more. But it takes a very strong-minded person and a lot of will power to say: okay, this person said this about me, I have to let it go. If it’s not possible to, don’t let it get out of my mind. If I didn’t do well here, I have to go back and critic myself. Maybe they’re right. Maybe I did this or maybe I did that. That’s the way of turning a negative into a positive. You take criticism and you turn it into where you are eventually critiquing yourself. You are trying to make yourself better, and there are negatives, but you can definitely make it a positive.”
That is what keeps the 24-year-old going, and it is working. In a handful of starts in the Truck Series this year, Newberry has been relatively fast each week. Well, that’s until the bad luck comes his way. At Daytona, Kansas and Dover, he was running near or inside the top-10 when he got into someone else’s mess. It wasn’t his fault, but the statistics don’t show that. That’s when people start judging his ability.
In an article published in Athlon Sports on Tuesday, Newberry was labeled as the “most frequent crasher in Trucks and the K&N East.” Although the numbers cannot lie, it is all a part of the learning process.
The same has occurred in the K&N Pro Series East. Take it or leave it – some of the incidents were of his own doing, and he knows it. No one needs to remind him of that. But the driver of the Qore24 machine has run inside of the top-five when everything goes his way.
Saying Goodbye to Racing Full-time in the Truck Series in 2014
Usually, when a baseball player makes it up to Triple-A, he doesn’t expect to get demoted. In racing, it doesn’t matter where you are developing your skills until you are racing with the best competitors in whatever division you are in.
Newberry was not competing for top-10s in the Truck Series. This year, he took a step back. That step back was a tough one, but a wise one. Now, he’s racing full-time with drivers a lot younger than him, including his teammate. However, the competition is just as strong in that division, and that is what he believes will help him moving forward.
“The toughest part is telling myself that I’m going to be getting into a truck in a couple of weeks. The toughest thing is that I want to be in a truck now. We took a step back and really thought about what would make our program better. We had an opportunity to bring Justin Lofton in and Austin Dillon to make our program better because they are winners in the Truck Series, and we felt that putting people in that are on our side are going to help us improve our program so that every time I get in the truck or Gray gets in it, we do better. There was a conflict where we weren’t going to be able to do any races.”
At one point, Newberry was unsure whether or not he would even be able to run in the Truck Series on a full-time basis. Gaulding can’t do so until 2016, but due to sponsorship coming into play – both drivers have been able to run full-time schedules in the East Series along with a few races in the Truck Series.
“That is our goal – to race more. I feel like we are taking every opportunity to get on the track more and get more experience. I feel like I have more of an opportunity in the vehicles I get in. We always want more. You want to be in the seat all of the time and you want to be at every single race. Sometimes, logistics and the human body don’t allow you do that. The hardest part is just staying patient and telling myself that I will be in a truck again soon. I will be out there running fast. Shoot, it doesn’t matter if I’ve been out for a month or a weekend – my goal is still the same.”
Having the chance to race with Dillon and Lofton has been immense for Newberry. It gives the team more opinions. Moreover, it also gives them confidence. When he sees them running up front, it enables him to understand that the equipment is capable of doing so.
Working with Multiple Crew Chiefs
There has been a constant over the years with Newberry, he seldom swaps crew chiefs. Entering this year, he had only worked with two crew chiefs in Truck Series competition for NTS Motorsports –Dan Deeringhoff and Eddie Pardue. Deeringhoff won the 2008 Nationwide Series title with Clint Bowyer while working for Richard Childress Racing. Meanwhile, Pardue was an experienced Nationwide Series crew chief – mainly with Roush-Fenway Racing and Turner-Scott Motorsports.
Now, Newberry is working with multiple crew chiefs. The team has swapped him back and forth between the No. 9 and No. 24 truck this season. But the most difficult part about racing in both divisions has been getting to know the men above the pit box.
NTS Motorsports has put him to work with John Monsam in the K&N Pro Series East. He won the 2002 Truck Series championship with Mike Bliss, and he has a total of eight wins in the Truck Series while sitting on the pit box 213 times over the course of 12 seasons. But in the Truck Series, Newberry has worked with three different crew chiefs in four races – Gere Kennon (1983 and 1984 champion in the Nationwide Series), Doug Howe and Ryan McKinney. The team appears to be leaning on McKinney to lead Newberry for the immediate future, and he is perfectly fine with that.
“Well, we have a lot of communication," Newberry said on McKinney. "There is a lot that goes into learning how each one speaks and thinks. Having a game plan going into the race is a big deal. I try to sit down with Ryan and John every week – whether it is my next truck race or K&N race. Ryan and I are already trying to figure out how to get better, and I actually had the chance to work with Ryan at the ARCA Series races that I ran. I ran at Pocono, Daytona and Talladega, so that was very helpful for me to work with Ryan there. That’s been translating over to the trucks this year. He and I already had a common ground because he already knew what I liked and I knew how he called races. That was a really big help in the trucks."
“But then starting out with John (in the K&N Pro Series East), I feel like he is a very good person and he works hard to teach me what he is thinking or what he wants to do. We are just constantly working. It is really easy to get along with John and work with different crew chiefs. I have had three different crew chiefs since the start of my Truck Series career until now. That is just a part of the game – to communicate with whoever is put with you. We feel like we are one team, one dream. I wouldn’t be upset if we changed little things here and there because everyone works together anyways. When I walk into the shop, it isn’t the No. 20 crew, the No. 24 crew or the No. 9 crew, everyone is under the NTS banner and we are able to work well together. We all have the same common goal to go out there and compete together. It is easy for us to try to make our team better. We all have a common goal and that is to go out there and win races.”
Creating that relationship with one crew chief is difficult enough. Now, he is working with several different men – each of which has extensive experience in NASCAR. What can he do to speed up the learning process then? Well, he is absorbing all that he can. The entire NTS Motorsports organization is like a giant family he said. It doesn’t matter what car or truck he is driving, everyone is helping each other out, and that is how they have begun to find speed on the race track.
In mid-May, NASCAR announced the NASCAR With Dad program. The program enabled fans to share their best moments that were NASCAR-related which they had with their father. This is right down the road which the Newberry’s have gone done.
It all started when his father helped him race go-karts as a young lad. Ever since, Newberry and his father, Bob, have grown a hobby into a way of life. Although his father isn’t at the shop due to working on his day-to-day business, he still participates in the daily activities which it takes to run a NASCAR operation.
“He gets to come to the shop every now and then and see the program that we have made. But right now, we have put everything into the hands of Dwayne Gaulding. He is our competition director and I feel like he is making the calls that he needs to make. He is making our team better and stronger and more competitive. My dad and he talk on a daily basis about their ideas and about what needs to be done. He might not been involved everyday in the shop, but he is involved in talking to Dwayne and creating the direction that we want to go and how we want to make our teams better and stronger,” Newberry said on how his father creates a winning environment.
“We have to kind of separate it (being father and son)," he continued. "Sometimes it is best not to bring business home because it will make things stressful, and I think any business is stressful when it comes to people having different worries. It is something we are very involved in and have a lot of passion for. I think we do really well. My dad and I enjoy each other’s company. We can still go fish together and have as much fun as we did when we were late model racing when I was younger. I feel like things haven’t changed much. We’ve taken our passion and drive for racing and we’ve moved it to a bigger operation.”
However, since he races for his father, Newberry is receiving the same negative attention that Paul Menard and John Wes Townley have experienced. Each of these drivers has one thing in common – they have all raced at the highest ranks in stock car racing due to their father’s wallets. Some may argue that these drivers don’t deserve to be racing at any of NASCAR’s top-three divisions. Others believe that they are taking up a seat that can be used be a “more talented” driver. However, there is nothing wrong with having your family help you get your career started, or helping a driver throughout their entire career such as the Menard family.
“I guess that the best way for me to describe it is – racing is something that my dad and I always did," said Newberry on his relationship with his father. "It’s something we put a lot of heart into. I feel like we both put in our time. We put in our man hours, all of our heart and soul and we do the best that we can. I don’t know any driver that has been able to make it without being with their family first or having that financial backing."
“The business is up and down with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and his dad, or Paul Menard and his dad. You always need that financial support, but for me – you need that family support. You need that environment. I have been fortunate to race with my father over the years. We have discussed that if I do go race for another team, the relationship won’t change. He’ll support me and put his heart and soul into it. Fortunately, we are where we can both put our heart and soul into NTS Motorsports which has been a family-run team since we started it.”
It might be difficult to ignore all of the naysayers which he has to deal with. However, Newberry believes it helps him. With his positive attitude, he is able to take advantage of criticism and turn it into positive feedback.
Working on the Future
The results might not be present at the moment. However, Newberry and NTS Motorsports are on their way to working on plans for next year.
Gaulding will run a similar schedule to what he will run this year – a mixture of the Truck Series on a part-time basis with a full slate in the K&N Pro Series East. Newberry’s plans are still up in the air. But he has time to figure them out.
Sponsorship is going to be the key part to deeming what division Newberry will run, along with how many events he will be entered in. No matter what the scenario will be, he knows that NTS Motorsports will be able to field him in a vehicle in 2015.
“I do know that I have the opportunity to run in the Truck Series, the K&N Pro Series or any division that NTS Motorsports decides to put me in. We all do what is best for the company. We will do what is best for our drivers moving forward and make our whole team look good. We have been (working) really hard to make our trucks and cars have the ability to compete well. We haven’t been able to sit down and discuss what we’re going to do moving forward. I do know that NTS Motorsports will have K&N cars and trucks. Whatever we do decide, we will go out there with the same heart and goal and team.”
As Newberry continues to show people he is a talented racer, the journey towards the top of the stock car ranks will only grow. It is a long journey, but at the end – it is all about chasing a dream that not many have the chance to chase. That is what Newberry is grateful for.
After intentionally wrecking FDNY Racing’s Ryan Ellis in an on-track incident at Charlotte, Jake Crum’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series license was revoked at tracks 1.25 miles in length and larger. However, during Speedway Digest’s “Speedy Digest” podcast, we have exclusively learned that Crum’s license has been restored at its full effect.
NASCAR officials, specifically NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director of Competition, Chad Little, told Crum that he needed to race at Dover to regain his license at the larger tracks.
“It was a mistake that shouldn’t have happened, and we are on good terms now,” Crum said. “I spoke with him (Ellis) in Dover. I went up there to get reapproved to run at the mile and a half tracks because unfortunately – they took my mile and a half speedway license after that incident.”
“My initial reaction was that I had no idea what had happened. I didn’t know if I came up a little bit and he came down and it was a racing incident, but obviously the information that I got was that I got dumped. I went on the radio and was like ‘did we get turned?’ And you could hear me yell it on the broadcast. I kind of got dazed. I asked David Ragan (who was spotting for Ellis) if we got turned and he was like ‘yeah he hooked you.’ I was like ‘alright, who was it?’ I heard that from David Ragan and I was like ‘I’m going to go kill this guy’ (he joked). Luckily, at that point I hadn’t seen the video of what happened, so I was able to make a rational decision of how to handle it – walked out and gave him the ‘what for’ signal. I thought I saw some kind of hand gesture from him, but I don’t know,” Ellis said over-the-phone the day after the incident had taken place.
Due to the unforeseen circumstances, Crum was able to piece a deal together with SS Green Light Racing to pilot the No. 07 truck at Dover in an attempt to regain his license at the larger tracks. However, after 52 laps, Crum’s day was completed as the engine expired on his Chevrolet Silverado.
“The main oil line came off and leaked oil everywhere, so we weren’t eligible to finish the race. They told me it was enough and that I should stay out of trouble and just move forward.”
Even though he did not complete over half of the race, Crum had discussions with NASCAR to explain to them his side of the story, and apologized for his actions.
“I am aloud to go back to the bigger tracks now. I actually went up and spoke with Chad Little and I gave a call to Brett Bodine and I told them that I had apologized for what had happened at Charlotte,” he said exclusively to Speedway Digest.
But even though his license is fully reinstated, Crum doesn’t have a ride – at least for now. When asked if he had any deals in place to race for the rest of the season, he could not comment. However, he did state that there have been talks with several companies to fund a program which would get him back on track.
The 22-year-old North Carolina native has 15 career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a best finish of 13th at the Kentucky Speedway in 2012.
Jeb Burton has been through a lot over the past few months. However, all the turmoil which the 21-year-old has experienced has gotten a lot easier with the announcement which was made on Friday morning.
Burton was announced as the full-time driver of the No. 13 Estes Toyota Tundra for ThorSport Racing. Entering the year, he was scheduled to race his second year in the Camping World Truck Series for Turner Scott Motorsports, but his sponsor made a default on their payments, and there went his chance to race for that organization. ThorSport Racing originally picked up the son of 2002 Daytona 500 champion, Ward Burton, for the season opener at Daytona. However, after an impressive run to start off the year, the team kept finding funding to run him at each race – enabling them to have time to complete the deal with Estes for the remainder of the season.
“I kind of had the carpet ripped out from under me,” Burton said during a press conference on Friday. “Everything happens for a reason. If that wouldn’t have happened, I wouldn’t be with these good people I’m with now.”
Locking up a deal with ThorSport means plenty to the Burton family. He is set to replace his father and his uncle, Jeff Burton, as he attempts to tame the NASCAR ranks, and looks to become the first Burton to win a championship in the top-three NASCAR divisions.
Since making his Truck Series debut in 2012, Burton has 32 starts with 14 top-10 finishes. Comparing that to his father’s first 32 starts in the Nationwide Series, Burton actually has had more success, but that’s because he didn’t experience as many mechanical issues as his father back in 1990 and 1991.
Now that he has secured a deal, his father believes he is set to win races and contend for this championship. But thanks to the experience he had trying to find funding to race, Ward says he has learned exactly what to do to interact with people.
“It is very difficult (getting funding). You have to approach it and make it a financial benefit to your company. Here you are – this is the way you are going to interact with sponsors and new customers and businesses. You can use racing to take advantage of all the three-dimensional opportunities that racing presents.”
Kyle Busch has scored yet another victory in NASCAR’s third-tier division. Busch dominated the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover, leading over 75 percent of the event. The victory marks Busch’s fourth victory in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Dover, and it is 39th victory in 119 starts. This also marks the eighth time Busch had recorded a perfect rating in the Truck Series.
Throughout the first 22 laps, there were three cautions as Busch started to utilize higher groove.
Busch’s teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr. tapped the wall on Lap 43, forcing him to pit while in the sixth position.
As Kyle Busch was pitting on Lap 75, the caution came out for Brennan Newberry slamming the wall on the front stretch. Busch went from first to eighth, but worked his way to third within a lap.
“We were well inside of the top-10 and the NTS Motorsports guys were really good. We are trying to get some more exposure for Qore-24. My crew chief, Gere Kennon, had the truck working good where we actually practiced in the dark and kind of had a cloud. We were just trying to buy our time, and we were just catching people all of a sudden. Racing is tight here at Dover, and we didn’t get the groove that we wanted, and we ran out of real estate and spun around,” Newberry said after the race.
Crafton slammed the wall exiting turn two on Lap 157, forcing an abrupt end to his day as he seemingly had a truck that could contend with Busch for the victory. He entered Dover with an 11 point lead over Timothy Peters. After the race, Crafton said he broke a wheel and that was it. Now, Peters is ahead of Johnny Sauter and Crafton by just one marker.
German Quiroga got into Gray Gaulding entering turn three, sending the No. 20 Chevrolet spinning into the outside wall, and collecting Ben Rhodes in the process.
“ The No. 20 and No. 77 were battling hard and I was working on staying up high and setting him (Quiroga) up so I can work on the No. 20, but they got together entering the corner and the No. 77 was aero loose. They came together at the wrong time and collected me in the wreck,” Rhodes said.
Brandon Jones recorded a career-best finish of fourth after getting the lucky dog on the fifth caution of the day. Jones ran as high as second, but was able to earn his first career top-10 finish. Ryan Blaney was able to take advantage of Crafton’s wreck after running third all day, and finished runner-up to Busch.
There were a total of seven cautions with four different leaders and six lead changes.
Ron Hornaday Jr. is currently fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings. However, the 56-year-old veteran has yet to lock up a deal with Turner Scott Motorsports to run the entire season.
Initially, Hornaday signed on with TSM for multiple races this season, but Rheem has been satisfied with his performances through four races this year. The four-time Camping World Truck Series champion enters Dover with three top-10s and 62 laps led so far this year.
After speaking with Hornaday on Friday morning, Speedway Digest has learned that Hornaday might not run the full season. As he nears the end of his career, Hornaday is still making a push for the coveted Truck Series title, even while trying to get funding. Hornaday told us that it is all up to Steve Turner at this point as well as Rheem. If they feel he is capable of running for the title, he will continue to be entered in the No. 30 Chevrolet on a weekly basis.
Entering Dover, Hornaday has 51 Camping World Truck Series victories along with 227 top-10s in 348 starts.