No testing? No problem for new driver-crew chief combo at Richard Petty Motorsports

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Brian Scott will squeeze into his seat today, crank his car and pull out on to Atlanta Motor Speedway to begin testing.

All from Concord, N.C.

No, he’s not testing a driverless car but will spend part of the day in the Ford Technical Center’s simulator on a full-motion platform surrounded by a wraparound screen. The driver can feel the bumps on a particular track and when the car is tight and loose.

With testing limited, this provides the newest driver to Richard Petty Motorsports a chance to work with crew chief Chris Heroy before they head to Daytona International Speedway next month for the season-opening Daytona 500.

“It’s a really great opportunity for us with the lack of testing to go there and actually run a race and I can explain to him some of my lingo or my terminology of tight or loose or it doesn’t get over the bumps because of this,’’ Scott said. “I can understand the way he communicates. It gives us an opportunity to test and learn some of those things in a static controlled environment.’’

Scott and Heroy are among more than 10 new driver-crew chief combinations this season. That list includes Carl Edwards with Dave Rogers and Denny Hamlin with Mike Wheeler. Some pairings have some familiarity. Others, such as Scott and Heroy, who had spent the past two seasons with Kyle Larson, do not.

While Ford’s simulator provides so much more for drivers and teams in preparing them for upcoming races, just the chance for a new driver-crew chief combination to work together is among the benefits.

Although a driver can listen to how a crew chief communicated on the radio with his previous team, Scott admits that there’s nothing like that actual interaction at the track or in the simulator.

“Until you start feeding off each other and pushing each other to be better and make the right changes, you don’t really understand that,’’ Scott said.

That process begins today for Scott and Heroy.