News & Media


Berrier looking forward to new chapter in career

February 11, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

Todd Berrier spent nearly two decades employed at Richard Childress Racing.

As Kevin Harvick's crew chief, he experienced winning a Daytona 500 in 2007. He also won a title with Harvick in what is now known as the Nationwide Series in 2001, and he won eight races and claimed four poles overall at the Cup Series level as a crew chief at RCR.


"I've known Todd for a long time. ... I know he will come out and be able to give me things I haven't been able to have in the past."

--BOBBY LABONTE

But when Jeff Burton struggled mightily during the first 19 races last season with Berrier on top of his pit box, even Berrier realized it might be time for a change in his career. So not long after he was replaced as Burton's crew chief, Berrier decided to join JTG Daugherty Racing in a new role as not only crew chief of the organization's single-car team, but also as its hands-on general manager.

That announcement came this past October. Now, as Berrier prepares the No. 47 Toyota team with Bobby Labonte to take on Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks, he realizes there is much work still to be done -- but he's fine with that fact.

"I haven't been surprised about a thing," Berrier said recently. "Honestly, I talked to [team co-owner] Tad [Geshickter] some in the middle of last year -- and it's exactly like I would picture it being at this point. So I haven't been let down or surprised about anything. It's all been kind of exactly what I would have expected at this point. ... We've been able to stick to the script we laid out in mid-September."

There are plans in the works to add a second car to the team by next season, and possibly even for a limited number of races by the end of this season. But Labonte and team co-owner Brad Daugherty said they already are seeing positive dividends brought about simply by the hiring of Berrier.

"With Todd's experience that he has, what he can bring to the table, he can do a lot of things that maybe some people can't do," Labonte said. "So he's able to multi-task. And it's funny, but he's also able to admit, 'Hey, I don't know anything about that. So I'm going to let someone else take care of that.' So if you admit that, you know that, that's always a better way than coming in and acting like you know everything.

"I've known Todd for a long time. He's got a great track record. He's very successful. I've never worked with him one-on-one before, but he's worked on my cars back a long time ago when I had problems at short tracks here and there. I know him real well -- and I know he will come out and be able to give me things I haven't been able to have in the past. He's the perfect fit for this organization and this team -- because he can do several things and he also lets other people do their jobs and holds them accountable for what they do."

Daugherty said Richard Childress himself recommended Berrier for the job, despite the fact that it meant the end to Berrier's long and mostly fruitful relationship with RCR.

"Todd's been around a long time. Richard Childress is a good buddy of mine, and I take a lot of advice from him," Daugherty said. "We were looking for someone. Richard saw what we were doing. We were spending a lot of money and we were like a commodity to these other race teams. It was benefiting them, but it wasn't benefiting us.

"Todd had been at RCR a long time, but he was looking for a new role. Him and Richard decided they were going to go their separate ways and Richard said, 'This is the guy who can lead your organization.' And he's the strongest guy we've got in the building now."

On its own


JTG Daugherty at first might take a step back, but its decision to break away from Michael Waltrip Racing was so it soon could move forward.

Hence, the addition of Berrier was all part of the grand scheme of JTG Daugherty Racing to split from Michael Waltrip Racing, leaving the MWR shop it had called its satellite home and moving back to a shop in Harrisburg, N.C., that previously served as home to a Nationwide team owned by Tad and Jodi Geshickter. Berrier spearheaded the move and recently joked that he's been so involved he's even helped lay some fresh sheet rock at the new old shop.

"Todd was wanting to get back to being a racer, and get away from the corporate thing. He wants to tinker with race cars and be a leader of men," Daugherty added. "All of our guys respect him. He came to our shop and he's changed everything. He's made it much more efficient. The processes are more fluid. I mean, I think we're really going to be good by mid-year because of this.

"We're really leaning hard on him because of his knowledge. He looked a lot at our race cars from last year and showed us a lot of waste, a lot of things that weren't good geometry-wise. We changed all that and already our wind-tunnel numbers have improved. He's really sharp, a no-nonsense guy who is straightforward."

Berrier has set the modest goal of running 17th in the points this season, then building on that for next year as hopefully another team is added to the fold. But he said he's already having a blast in his new role.

"Having a clean sheet of paper, knowing we could assemble a group of people who had never been assembled before, that's what appealed to me most about this job," he said. "We've got 40 people who are coming either from Red Bull or Michael Waltrip Racing or KHI (Kevin Harvick Inc.) or other places that shut down. I picked up people I've had relationships with in the past, and some not as well.

"It's just fulfilling to me to be able to assemble a group of people who are part of a team, and not part of an assembly facility or part of a furniture factory. I want to put it back to the point of all of them being racers, and all of them being able to impact the bottom line."