Transporter provides integral support to championship run
“Depending on the schedule, we’ll leave out late Wednesday or early Thursday,” Collins said. “Usually, we’ll get back late Sunday night.”
Monday is generally a day off for the team, as is half of the day Tuesday. However, some stretches in the season can obliterate down time.
“Sonoma is our longest trip,” he said of the haul from the team’s Charlotte, N.C. garage to Northern California. “That’s a 48 hour drive. We’ll leave from the shop for Sonoma, come back to the shop and head straight to New Hampshire. It’s coast-to-coast in about four or five day’s time.”
On extended west coast runs, Penske will send a six-car hauler for all its racing teams where teams can coordinate a swap of cars and replenish equipment.
Those trips will keep Collins and his team on the road for upwards of three consecutive weeks.
Fans pack the stands by the thousands for 36 races every year, but Collins – who’s right in the middle of the action – watches very little of it.
“I barely watch any of it,” he said, citing race day duties as his primary distraction. “Once we’re unloaded and the race starts, Mike and I are back at the truck getting everything ready to get back out on the road.”
If it’s late in the race and Keselowski is challenging for the win, Collins said they’ll generally turn to what’s happening on the track.
“If we win, I know we’ll have a few hours before we can leave the track,” he said of the team’s post-race Victory Lane obligations. “I can watch then because I know we’ll be hanging around the track longer, and they’ll have to tear down the car.”
If the Miller Lite Racing Team doesn’t make it to Victory Lane, or the car isn’t picked for a random tear down inspection, Collins said he and his fully loaded team can be on the road approximately 45 minutes after the checked flag waves.
“Sometimes we can beat the fans out of the track,” he said.
In the event the car has to come back to the garage for mechanical work, Collins often finds himself lending a hand in a variety of ways to get the car back on the track.
“Going to get parts, finding equipment, just whatever needs to be done to get the car back out there,” he said. “A lot of people think all I do is drive the truck. That’s actually the easiest part.”