Chris Heroy doesn’t believe in wasting any time.
When he agreed earlier this week to become the new crew chief for Brian Scott at Richard Petty Motorsports, Heroy didn’t tell his new bosses he needed time off before he started his new gig.
“I signed up and about 15 minutes later, I was under a car, trying to make it go faster,” Heroy said Thursday on The Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Sammy (RPM competition director Sammy Johns) said, ‘Hey man, can you start right now?’ I said, ‘Yeah man, let’s go.’”
Heroy comes to RPM after four years with Chip Ganassi Racing, the last two as crew chief for Kyle Larson. Try as they may, the Larson-Heroy combination just could not reach Victory Lane in their two-year pairing.
It got to the point where, although there was no animosity with CGR or Larson, Heroy decided he needed a new challenge.
“Sometimes change is necessary,” Heroy said. “No hard feelings. I’ll of course miss Kyle and that group over there. I appreciate Chip and Max (team manager Max Jones) giving me the opportunity to crew chief over there and learned a lot through the four years.
“We didn’t live up to expectations. We wanted to make a change and I was up for a change. … No hard feelings. I wish those guys all the best. If they’re able to win a race, I’ll be the first one over there, congratulating them.”
When Scott was signed to replace Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 9 RPM Ford Fusion, Heroy applied for the job. Following a two-hour interview, both he and RPM decided they’d make a good fit – and a new chapter for both Heroy and the organization began to be written.
“It really kind of came up quick,” Heroy said. “I like Brian’s attitude. He’s already at the shop, working with the guys. They’re a great group of guys, real pumped up, Brian’s a big part of it and leading this group.
“The 43 was running real well last year, almost made the Chase, had a lot of great finishes, so we’ll try to build off what Trent (crew chief Trent Owens) and his group accomplished and try to get our group up and running.”
That he jumped right in after being given the job says a lot about Heroy’s enthusiasm for his new role. He knows there will be challenges, including Scott never having won a race in 208 career Xfinity Series starts.
“I’m kinda energized by this change,” Heroy said. “It feels good to be here and we have a lot of opportunities. I’m all focused on building this program with Brian and everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports.”
Scott has made 17 prior starts in the Sprint Cup Series, scattered over the last three seasons, with just one top-10 finish in that span.
But Heroy thinks the Boise, Idaho native has great promise now that he’s in NASCAR’s top league. And with both Scott (Richard Childress Racing) and Heroy (CGR and before that, Hendrick Motorsports) totally fresh at RPM, there is great promise for the new pairing.
“You can’t just do what you did at the last place,” he said. “You have to start with what the current team has. You have to make sure you’re working on the right stuff. I like to come in, see where everything’s at, evaluate the good and bad. I asked all my road and shop guys to give me a list of three things to make our cars go faster and more efficiently.”
Heroy still has to pinch himself that he’s working for the legendary and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.
“It’s a real honor and pleasure,” Heroy said. “He’s a positive guy and a great leader. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s all about. The name speaks for itself. It’s a real deal up here. He’s got two fully-funded race teams that are ready to run hard. They’re like a family up here. … It’s nice to be here. It feels like home. It’s good.”
Heroy believes RPM is a team on the move. It made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2014 with Aric Almirola (and almost made it again in 2015).
To say he’s bullish about RPM as a whole, as well as the No. 9 team, in 2016 is an understatement. He knows there is a challenge facing him, but he’s ready to meet that challenge head-on.
“Whatever racing hands you, you have to make the best of it,” Heroy said. “I try to stay positive and try to keep everything working forward. I try to be sympathetic when they’re mad and say I can see it, I get it and it’s okay.
“I think it’s important to let them know we’re going to try and do everything we can in the pits and off the spotter tower to make things go as smooth as possible. The great teams recover. When you look at the 4 or 48, when they get down, they recover. That’s how you make good seasons. You don’t have those finishes of 30th and 35th and that sort of thing.
“To keep you up in the points, to keep you parked around good cars, to keep your morale up, to keep things like that, when it all goes down, it’s all about recovering. That’s why I try to shift the focus from we’ve got some lemons, let’s make some lemonade. We’ll give ‘em all we’ve got.”