Transporter provides integral support to championship run

Jason Cannon December 13, 2012

Dan “Barney” Collins may not be Penske Racing’s most famous man behind the wheel, but he’s arguably among its most important.

Newly minted NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion and driver of the Penske-owned Miller Lite Blue Deuce, Brad Keselowski, may attract the headlines, but it’s Collins that drove (literally) both Keselowski and boss Roger Penske to the team’s first Cup Championship.

Collins and his partner, Mike Williams, drove the transporter for Penske’s No. 2 Dodge team that won five races this season and the 2012 Cup title last month.

“Everyone enjoys when you win a race or, in our case, a championship,” Collins said. “It’s a competition and, being on a team, you want to win. It’s a cool experience.”

Collins, a former U.S. Air Force aircraft mechanic, got his start in racing in 1995 hauling Indy Cars. He joined Richard Petty Motorsports’ Nationwide team in 2002 before jumping to Penske four years later.

“I had a friend in college who was part of a race team,” Collins said of his entry into the sport. “I worked around the shop and did whatever they needed me to, and I worked my way up from there.”

Collins soon found himself trying to balance his studies with hauling IndyCars and equipment around the country.

With legends like Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Richard Petty and Roger Penske, the list of talent Collins has worked with over the years reads like an auto racing hall of fame ballot.

This year, Collins finds himself associated with one of NASCAR’s hottest rising young stars.

Mode of Transportation

On Sundays, Keselowski straps himself into the No. 2 Dodge machine for a three-hour, 200 mile per hour dash. Collins buckles himself behind the wheel of a 2012 Freightliner Coronado, which goes significantly slower, about four days earlier.

“We get new trucks about every two or three years,” Collins, who has piloted a Coronado since 2002, said.

The miles add up on the Coronado at a rate comparable to other single-driver rigs – about 80,000 miles in a nine-month season.

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