Richard Childress Racing
October 30, 2013
RCR Crew Member Spotlight: Matt McCall
No. 31 team engineer talks about his decorated racing career and working with crew chief Luke Lambert.
Matt McCall is a man who wears many hats. In addition to working with the No. 31 Chevrolet team at Richard Childress Racing as a team engineer, the 32-year-old Denver, N.C., native is also an accomplished race car driver that is ranked a Third Degree Black Belt and holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UNC-Charlotte.
McCall’s racing career started when he ran karts from 1990 to 1999, first in the Rookie Division at age nine and then moving into the Adult division at 13 while earning more than 150 wins. Traveling extensively along the east coast in the World Karting Association Dirt Series from year to year, McCall obtained numerous wins including the WKA’s Most Improved Driver award and eventually became a Grand National Champion. In 1996, McCall won the North Carolina State Dirt Series Championship in all three classes. Overall, McCall earned two track championships and three state championships.
In 1999, McCall began running Super Sport races at Hickory Motor Speedway, finishing fourth in driver championship point standings. The following year, McCall won both the Rookie of the Year and Mechanic of the Year awards. Combining stats from his years running at Hickory, McCall claimed a track championship in 2004, 26 victories and the Most Popular Driver award. His NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut was also made at Martinsville Speedway in 2003.
In 2005, McCall was featured on the Discovery Channel’s Roush Fenway Racing: Driver X program, finishing fourth overall out of more than 2,000 aspiring race applicants. Following the show, McCall entered into the Robert Yates Racing driver developmental program, racing in five NASCAR Nationwide Series and two ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards events.
Making history in 2009, McCall became the first repeat champion in the United Auto Racing Association Series after wing four of 16 events and posting 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. McCall’s first championship in the series came in 2005.
Five Questions with Matt McCall:
Tell us about your racing career.
“I started out running go-karts at a young age and moved to late models when I was old enough. I had a lot of success in the late model class with great sponsors who supported me. Twice, I was part of the Roush Fenway Racing “Gong Show” and it was televised the second time on The Discovery Channel which was cool. After that, I received an opportunity from Robert and Doug Yates to run a limited NASCAR Nationwide Series and ARCA Racing Series schedule. Unfortunately, that deal fell apart when some sponsors dropped out of the sport. I kept trying to race for a few years after that, but it was hard without consistent sponsorship. At the same time, I was setting up cars and building shocks for different teams and got to a point where I made the decision to work for a race team fulltime. Crew chief Harold Holly and Joey Coulter gave me a great opportunity as a team engineer on the No. 22 RCR Chevrolet Silverado in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series a few years, and earlier this year I moved into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with the No. 31 Chevrolet team and Jeff Burton. I still try to race a little bit here and there when my schedule allows. However, my main objective is my job at RCR.”
What’s your favorite highlight of your racing career?
“I think the coolest win of my career was at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2009 when I won a late model event there.”
How much does your driving background help you succeed as a team engineer?
“I think it helps tie everything together. Sometimes, no matter how much math or data you have to look at, I wouldn’t understand what the driver is telling me about the handling of the car if I didn’t have that experience driving the car. The feedback you get from certain drivers is dependent on their driving style, but I think my experience helps tie it all together.”
What is your favorite track as a driver and engineer?
“I would say Bristol Motor Speedway or Richmond International Raceway. Martinsville Speedway is also a really cool place. I like short tracks a lot, so those three tracks would be at the top of the list.”
How is it working with crew chief Luke Lambert, who also has an engineering background?
“It has worked out great. We are close to the same age and have shared a lot of similar experiences moving up the ranks. We get along well away from the track too. It makes the job easier for me when we have that trust. If you work well with the crew chief and it is a true team atmosphere, it makes your job more enjoyable. I feel like we have that team chemistry on the No. 31 team.”