DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Freightliner has announced it’s expanding its relationship with NASCAR, becoming the official hauler of the racing series as well as several of its teams.
“Both NASCAR and Freightliner Trucks share a passion for vehicles that push the envelope in terms of performance and efficiency,” said Jonathan Randall, director of product marketing, Freightliner Trucks.
The Freightliner Coronado and the Classic XL are now a common sight in the NASCAR paddock, with teams such as: Evernham Motorsports; Dale Earnhardt Incorporated; Penske Racing South; Hendrick Motorsports; Petty Enterprises; Haas CNC Racing; Chip Ganassi Racing and several others now using Freightliner trucks to get their cars to the track.
“We have supplied hauler vehicles to these major NASCAR teams for over five years,” said Randall. “In addition to all of the great teams we’ve been affiliated with for years, we are also proud to announce our latest team relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.”
A total of 13 racing teams will now use Freightliner trucks to get their equipment from track to track. It’s expected there will be 79 or 80 Freightliner trucks at each NASCAR event this season. The Dodge-powered teams are running Coronado’s while most of the other teams run the Classic XL.
Ray Evernham, owner of Evernham Motorsports, says his team now has a fleet of eight Coronados as well as a Freightliner utility truck.
“Sometimes we underestimate the value in getting the cars back and forth from the shop on time,” said Evernham, who has been running Freightliners since 2001. “It’s very important our stuff isn’t sitting on the side of the road broken down.”
Evernham made the comments to media at the Daytona 500. Following the race, NASCAR teams including his own had to pack up, return to their shops and then head immediately to the series’ second event in California the following weekend.
Kasey Kahne, driver of Evernham Motorsports’ #9 car, said he has been using a Freightliner to haul his own World of Outlaws Sprint cars to the track for a number of years.
“They look good and they get down the road without problems,” said the racer, adding he enjoys driving the truck himself whenever possible. He also says the spacious cab allows for three or four crewmembers to travel in comfort.
As part of its expanded partnership with NASCAR, Freightliner is also sponsoring the new Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge. The event will pit 16 NASCAR hauler drivers against each other in a series of competitions to be held throughout the season. The drivers will have the chance to showcase their driving skills while operating the company’s Coronado tractors. Challenges will include maneuvering an obstacle course, backing up around curves and parallel parking, with the champion taking home US$35,000 as well as bragging rights.
“The hauler challenge is about skill and control, not speed,” said Randall. “The course simulates real-life driving situations.”
“We are excited to showcase the maneuverability and handling of our trucks at the hauler challenge,” Randall added.
Typically, NASCAR haulers put on about 68,000 miles per year and are turned over after a two-year lifecycle. At that point, the dealers fight over them because of their high resale value, says Freightliner senior vice-president of marketing, Michael Delaney.
“These trucks have probably seen more coats of wax than miles,” joked racer Kyle Petty. “The guys really take care of them.”
Team owner Evernham says he lets his hauler drivers spec’ the trucks to their liking.
“They know a lot more about what they need going coast-to-coast than I do,” he admitted. “I control the colour, the decals and the chrome, but I have a great deal of faith in my guys.”
Robby Maschhaupt is the hauler driver for the #66 Best Buy NASCAR Nextel Cup team. He says he usually spec’s a 285-inch wheelbase which he says provides a better ride on the highway. He won’t spec’ a longer wheelbase than that, however, as he says it would be too difficult to maneuver around tight short tracks such as Bristol and Martinsville. When they’re not hauling the cars from track to track, the hauler drivers are actively involved in the daily operations of the team. Generally they are part of the pit crew, allowing for no downtime while at the track. Maschhaupt, for instance, is the team’s gas man, responsible for fuelling the race car up during pit stops.
Maschhaupt says the hauler drivers are so busy on race weekends it’s not uncommon to be driving down the road after a race, not knowing who won the race itself.
“I have to go home and watch the race on TV Tuesday night before I know who did what,” said Maschhaupt.
Still, he said he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I get to stand out there on the line when the national anthem is being sung and the fighter jets are flying overhead – that’s my office,” he said.