BK Racing provides haven for former MWR employees looking for work

(Photo by Dustin Long)
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CHARLOTTE — Being laid off was nothing new to Kevin White, but the feeling this time was.

Twice before, the 22-year NASCAR veteran had been with teams that shut down — Ricky Rudd’s in 1999 and Andy Petree’s in 2004. Each time, White quickly found work with another organization.

But when Michael Waltrip Racing announced in August it would cease operations after the 2015 season, White, who had been a tire specialist, mechanic and worked on front suspensions in four years there, struggled to find another job in the sport. He wondered if his time in NASCAR was over.

“You don’t want to go out on their terms,’’ the 50-year-old said. “If I pick and choose to get out of it, I want it to be because I’m ready to get out not because I was forced out.’’

Monday — less than three weeks before the Daytona 500 — White began his first day at BK Racing. He’s not alone.

He is one of 11 former Michael Waltrip Racing employees at BK Racing, including driver David Ragan. On a team with about 75 people, including about 25 new hires since last year, the influx of MWR employees could make a significant impact on the growing team.

It already is in the parking lot. Tuesday afternoon all the parking spots in front of the 36,000-square foot facility were taken, forcing team members to park on a driveway next to the building and on the grass behind the shop.

“We’re busting at the seams,’’ Ryan Dubois, the team’s general manager said.

BK Racing also has not been able to keep up in distributing team apparel. That’s left White, Joel Cox, a fabricator, and Greg Schaefer, who oversees the assembly of the cars, among those in the shop working in their MWR garb.

They are among more than 80 former MWR employees — out of about 200 — who have found jobs with Sprint Cup teams since last year.

White admits this was the most difficult time to find another job after being laid off. It was easier years before when there were more teams in the Cup series. That number has dwindled, leading to reports that the 43-car Cup field will be cut to 40 this year when NASCAR and teams agree on a charter system.

New jobs used to be so easy to get that Cox got one by chance. Cox, who lost his job when a Nationwide team shut down in the middle of the 2006 season, took a friend to Michael Waltrip Racing shortly after that so the friend could drop off a resume. Cox walked into the shop, saw someone he used to work with and was asked if he needed work. Just like that Cox had a new job.

While not having a job since the end of last season was concerning, the time off allowed Schaefer to spend time with his father, Dick, who was hospitalized from October to mid-January. Schaefer spent about five weeks in Florida, time he likely wouldn’t have been able to have spent if he had a job.

With his father at home, Schaefer is back at work. In some ways, it is as if he didn’t leave MWR.

The team purchased 17 MWR cars and much equipment. With former Michael Waltrip Racing employees in the shop, there was a sense of familiarity not often associated when one starts a new job.

Ragan also feels that comfort with the familiar faces in the shop.

“It gives some confidence as a driver knowing that the inventory that I raced last year, which was competitive, that I’ll be starting the season with it and with a lot of the same guys that will be assembling the cars and working on the cars,’’ Ragan said.

There’s little free space in the team’s shop with all the cars and equipment packed tight. Hustle and bustle exude in the shop as the team prepares for the upcoming season and integrates its new employees.

One of the new things the team did this year, Dubois said, was offer contracts to all its employees.

“You stay with us, we stay with you,’’ Dubois said is the message the team is sending its employees by offering contracts. “This is our group moving forward. We want to be a family. We want to get rid of the turnover rate.

“We want people that want to drive a stake in the ground and say, ‘I’m going to make BK successful.’ We ask that commitment from the employees but also provide that same loyalty and commitment to them.’’

That’s comforting for White. He laughs about his luck in NASCAR after being with three teams that shut down and going through the mergers that saw Evernham Motorsports become Gillett-Evernham Motorsports and then Richard Petty Motorsports.

“I’m kind of scared for these guys,’’ White laughs, looking around at his new teammates at BK Racing considering his history with teams shutting down. “Hopefully, it’s not me.’’

COTA Truck race results: Zane Smith wins

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images

Reigning series champion Zane Smith won Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas for the second year in a row.

The victory is Smith’s second of this year.

MORE: COTA Truck race results

Kyle Busch finished second and was followed by Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Ross Chastain.

The key moment came when Parker Kligerman‘s truck came to a stop on the frontstretch at Lap 28. Smith, running second, made it to pit road before it was closed. Busch, who was leading, had already passed pit road entrance.

Smith gained the lead with the move, while Busch had to pit under the caution and restarted 16th. Smith was able to build a lead and beat Busch by 5.4 seconds.

Stage 1 winner: Christian Eckes

Stage 2 winner: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Ty Majeski’s third-place finish is his best of the season. … Tyler Ankrum’s fourth-place finish is his best of the year. … Corey Heim has finished sixth two races in a row. … Rookie Nick Sanchez finished seventh, giving him back-to-back top 10s.

Who had a bad race: Parker Kligerman was running third when electrical issues forced him to stop on track just after the end of the second stage. … After winning the first stage, Christian Eckes had mechanical issues and had to pit for repairs, costing him several laps.

Notable: Front Row Motorsports has won the Truck COTA race all three years. Todd Gilliland won the race in 2021 and Zane Smith has won it the past two years.

Next: The series races April 1 at Texas Motor Speedway (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225
COTA winner Zane Smith’s truck catches fire after he did his burnout on the frontstretch. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at goprn.com; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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