Whenever Kevin Harvick is on the track this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Tim Fedewa is watching out for him from the spotter’s stand.
But Fedewa remembers the days when he was in the driver’s seat.
Fedewa, 48, is among a group of spotters on the Sprint Cup tour who have behind-the-wheel experience in NASCAR. He won four times and earned four poles in 333 career starts in the Busch (now Xfinity) series.
“It’s a trust issue – a ‘been there, done that’ kind of thing,” said Fedewa, who began spotting for Harvick during his Sprint Cup championship-winning run last year. “When I say something to Kevin, I’m not just saying it because I think that’s what he needs to do. I’m relying on the experience I’ve had. He feels like he doesn’t need to question that.”
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Stewart-Haas Racing has two ex-racers as spotters – Fedewa and Rick Carelli, a four-time winner on the Camping World Truck Series who works with former Sprint Cup champ Kurt Busch.
Richard Childress Racing has ex-racers spotting for all three of its Sprint Cup teams – Stevie Reeves for Paul Menard, Jason Jarrett for Ryan Newman, and Andy Houston for rookie Austin Dillon.
Fedewa’s racing career was on its downswing when he first began spotting for 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott, in 2003. Since then, he’s worked with Clint Bowyer, A.J. Allmendinger, Scott Speed and Aric Almirola before signing on as Harvick’s spotter last year.
“Oh yeah, there’s a learning curve” in spotting for a driver, said Fedewa, who last raced in 2006. “It’s different spotting for a rookie, like I did with Clint Bowyer (in 2006), than it is a veteran like Kevin. As a rookie, you don’t really know anything, but spotting for Kevin … you really have to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.
“It’s actually harder now, because we’re racing for a championship, and you have to make sure you cover all the bases. You want to help your team with as much information as you can give them.”
And Harvick is glad to have it.
“With Timmy, he knows how it works,” Harvick said. “When you ask him a question, he’s going to have a legitimate answer that you know is coming from someone who has driven a race car and spent a lot of time spotting and watching the cars going around the track.
“Timmy does a great job for me because he’s a pretty mellow guy – he never really gets wound up on the radio. For me, that’s important, because it’s not going to get me wound up as I’m driving the car.”
Still, Fedewa does miss being behind the wheel; winning races and championships as Harvick’s spotter helps make up for that.
“Yeah, I miss driving,” Fedewa said. “I miss the short tracks, and especially Loudon (New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where his last win came in 2000).
“I miss the competitiveness, just coming into the garage thinking, ‘I’m going to beat everybody in here.’ But I get that now through Kevin. That’s what motivates me now. The drive’s still there, though.”