Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday July 4, 2013
Fresh off of the 2012 Camping World Truck Series championship, Turner Motorsports minority owner Harry Scott, Jr. increased his involvement in the organization during the off-season. The newly rebranded Turner Scott Motorsports boasts 13 different drivers—some of which run part time—across the K&N, Truck and Nationwide Series. Mr. Scott, a man who is very passionate about his racing, is the newest addition to the expanding Truckin’ Thursdays diary rotation. This week, we spend a little time getting to know the co-owner of a team with big visions for the future.
I’ve always been a fan of NASCAR and interested in motorsports. Todd Braun was running Braun Racing at that time, and we hit it off, bringing me into the fold. At the end of 2008, I did some sponsorship with them and continued into 2009. Then we partnered in 2010 on the No. 11 Brian Scott entry—I was the car owner on that car. Then Steve Turner came in and bought Todd’s interest and assets in Braun Racing. I stayed on as a minority partner. This past December, I increased my stake in the team and became a co-owner.
I decided to increase my involvement in the team because I had sold two of my operating companies, and that gave me the time to pursue my interest in racing. I really enjoy the racing and I think we’ve got a good group of guys at Turner Scott Motorsports. I think the group as a whole has a ton of potential. It’s great to be a part of it and have the opportunity to help it grow and to help it succeed. It was a good opportunity for me, and I think Steve and I work well together. Our abilities seem to complement each other, so it’s been a good partnership.
Prior to the increase in ownership, I was more in an advisory role, and now having your name on the side of the building changes a lot. You’re responsible for everything now that your name is on the side of the building, and there’s a lot of dedication that you have to have. So you want to make sure everything goes the way you want it to go for your sponsors, your employees and obviously, the investment that you make.
The one thing that we did this year and used part of my investment to do that is that we started the K&N East teams—we have three full-time teams and a couple part-time teams. The drivers in those series are a ton of fun to work with because they’re young and they’re all very talented. Specifically, Dylan Kwasniewski, the K&N West champion, has got two wins for us this year, and we hope he’s going to win the championship with us on the East side. We’ve also got a female driver named Kenzie Ruston, who’s from Oklahoma. She’s the real deal—she’s a great driver, she’s smooth, her car control is great, she’s had some good success and she’s been consistent in her runs this year.
If you move to the Truck Series, we’ve got James Buescher, the reigning truck champion, and of course, it’s fun to work with him and try to defend his championship. Then we’ve got Jeb Burton, who has surprised everybody this year with his performance in his first year in trucks full time. He ran some truck races last year, but he’s really come into his own this year. We’re all really proud of him. We’ve also seen Miguel Paludo have some really good runs this year; he did really well and led some laps at Charlotte. He’s progressing along nicely as a driver and it’s nice to see that.
Moving on to the Nationwide side, we’ve got Justin Allgaier, who I believe is third in points right now, which is pretty impressive given the increased competition that I feel like the Nationwide Series has this year. He ran second at Road America and I just don’t think he quite had the car to beat Allmendinger, but it was good for him because he said he learned from following Allmendinger, who is such a good road course racer.
The opportunity to work with Kyle Larson is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a driver with that much talent that’s coming up through the ranks, to be able to work with him and watch his light bulb go off when he goes to these tracks he’s never been to. After the first run or two in practice, he’s got it figured out and is at the top of the board. He’s been contending for wins a couple times this year—he lost by about a hood at Bristol to Kyle Busch. He was second at Michigan a few weeks ago. The goal for him is to get him experience and make sure that he’s logging a lot of laps. We’re probably more conservative with him than we normally would be since he’s a developmental driver, but he’s a ton of fun to work with and a great guy. Then we’ve got Nelson Piquet, Jr., who doing a good job—he’s gotten two top 10s in the last couple of weeks and I think that’s coming together too.
We’re starting to work on a timeline for each of our development drivers, and there are plenty of factors as far as where they end up. There’s their performance as a driver, the ability of the driver to move to the next level as we assess it, and of course, there’s the sponsorship aspect of it. Sometimes we’ll have a sponsor that will want to skip a particular series. In other words, they may want to go from K&N East all the way to Nationwide with a particular driver, skipping the Truck Series. It’s a little more difficult to do than to take it one step at a time. There are obviously some drivers that are capable of doing that—we look at everything in totality: their recent performance, the trend line on that performance and where we think their abilities, their sponsorship and their support is best suited. Some of it still has to do with the availability of rides. We’re not going to have six Nationwide cars, so we have to put our chips in the best spot.
The key to our success in the Truck Series in particular is Steve’s dedication to the infrastructure of the company. He’s made a lot of investment—and I have this year—in making sure that these guys have the equipment, the tools, the personnel and even the support from Hendrick in their engines that we need in order to be successful. Steve’s a racer and he really likes the Truck Series; I believe he likes the Truck Series because he feels like the competition is a little more raw and old school. That’s really what he enjoys and because he enjoys it, he’s successful at it. I think that’s where the success comes from—that’s Steve’s passion.
We’re just starting to get into our pre-silly season to try to determine our strategy for next year and who should be where, so when the time comes and the decisions get made, we’ve got a plan.
Getting off of the Turner Scott subject a little, the last couple weeks, a lot of my time has been spent on Jason Leffler’s memorial service and on setting up the Charlie Dean Leffler Discretionary Trust to try to help take care of Charlie going forward. I’m serving as a trustee along with Todd Braun and Steve Overholser, the CFO for Great Clips. We set up a fund to help provide for Charlie and his support going forward from education, to healthcare to whatever needs he may have. A lot of my time the last week or so has been devoted to getting that set up. It’s all set up now, so it was a project that popped up unfortunately, that needed to be addressed. I’m excited about being able to take care of Charlie because that’s what Jason would have wanted us to do. I’m going to miss Jason a ton—he was a good friend and a great father. He was a real racer that loved racing more than anything other than his son. I was there to witness the pre-dad Jason and the post-dad Jason, and it was amazing to see the transformation. His passion for racing never wavered—he just adjusted his priorities.
Update: “This was exactly the kind of night we needed. We did everything we could do to get a top-10 finish and a lot of the guys we’re chasing made mistakes. We’re showing just how good we are as a team; we were good from the time we rolled off the hauler and we were good until we loaded it back up. We made good calls on pit road, made good adjustments, had good pit stops. This team is stronger than it has ever been and we’re showing consistency week after week. I can’t wait until Iowa.” Miguel Paludo
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