Mooresville, NC ~ 2008 UARA-STARS Championship winning crew chief, Nick Hutchins is set to take on the high profile role of crew chief for Brandon McReynolds for the 2009 season.
Hutchins, who Saturday night celebrated with Team Crum Racing on their 2008 championship at the Crowne Plaza in Hickory, NC, has just accepted a crew chief position with McReynolds Racing and driver Brandon McReynolds for the 2009 season. McReynolds is the son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief and current NASCAR on FOX Analyst, Larry McReynolds and at 17 years old is set to make a bid for the UARA-STARS Championship.
A former UARA-STARS race winner himself, Hutchins will be officially joining McReynolds team on Monday, January 19th and will work with the team full-time beginning with testing as soon as possible. McReynolds fell just short of the Melling Select Performance Rookie of the Year title in 2008 to friend and competitor, Darrell Wallace, Jr. and in 2009 these two teenage drivers are the front runners for the UARA-STARS Championship. With the addition of Hutchins, McReynolds just got a huge boost for the 2009 season and will be ready to go head to head with Wallace and others for the series title.
“I’m excited. This is going to be a great opportunity to make another run at the UARA-STARS Series championship and I’m excited to be working with Brandon(McReynolds) this season,” said Hutchins in a phone interview.
Hutchins, who helped carry Crum from an inexperienced driver in early 2007 to a race winner during the same season and championship contender and winner in 2008 looks to have the same success with McReynolds, but knows this deal is a little different.
“I didn’t know that this past season was Brandon’s(McReynolds) first in a Late Model and I didn’t know that he didn’t have anyone working on his car full-time in 2008. The pressure is on with he and his team securing a win in last season and running as good as they did.”
Pressure is something Hutchins maybe experiencing a lot of in his first season with McReynolds after being in a more laid back role with Crum, who as we all know is very relaxed at the races. McReynolds great runs in 2008 combined with expectation of the team and returning sponsor, Sculley Boat Builders is just the tip of the iceberg for Hutchins as he knows that he’ll have one of NASCAR’s legendary crew chief’s, Larry McReynolds looking over his shoulder.
“It’s certainly a lot of pressure having Larry(McReynolds) there, but he assures me that he just wants me to do my job and he’s going to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes he did when he got started. I was a big fan of Davey Allison when I was younger so it’s pretty cool to work for his crew chief and he certainly knows his way around a race car and I can always learn from him.”
“I’ve got a lot of pressure to this deal right. It’s not an issue of whether or not we’ll perform, he’s definitely a good race car driver and I think we’ll work good together.”
Hutchins said that his first priority is to gain the trust of McReynolds and his new team that will consist of returning crew members; Chris Howell, Adam Fournier, Bobby Wallace and 2002 UARA-STARS Champion, Danny O’Quinn, who serves as McReynolds driver coach as well as spotter duties on race nights.
“I met with a couple of those guys the other night and I think they really want to go after the championship this season and that’s my goal as well. I want to repeat as championship winning crew chief and I want to get Brandon, his family and team a championship. In order to do that we’ll have to hit the ground running,” concluded Hutchins.
Hutchins won his first championship with Crum in only 29 UARA-STARS Series starts and he’ll try to repeat that feat in only 16 starts with McReynolds this season with the first race at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC on March 16th. For Hutchins the pressure is certainly on and this year he’ll be in a very high profile position with McReynolds being watched by many of the eyes of the NASCAR Sprint Cup teams.
Certainly Hutchins is up for the task and now we’ll just have to wait and see what the 2009 season will bring for he and his new driver.