They say it's not what you know but who you know that gets you places in this world. In the case of Todd Millard, tire specialist for Roush Fenway Racing's No. 17 Ford, it's both.
Millard met the No. 17 car's driver Matt Kenseth when both men were running among the same circles, literally, on the short tracks in Wisconsin.
Millard began his 18-year business relationship with Kenseth in 1991, helping Matt with his late model car. He has since followed him up through the ranks, and he helped Kenseth win a Sprint Cup championship along the way.
Millard has many roles on the team, including handling seat/interior installations and also windshield duty during the races.
As the tire specialist, Millard is responsible for matching sets of tires that are provided by Goodyear. Each tire has its own serial number and the tires are built in batches, so the tire specialist wants to get four tires from the same batch to improve the odds they will perform identically. He has to match two left side tires with two right side tires to get a compatible set.
The tire specialist also sets the tire pressures as requested by the crew chief and records the temperatures along the right, center and left of the tires after runs so the data can be analyzed and help determine setups.
His role is huge in safety and communication during a race.
"I have to make sure the tires are consistent, which makes them safer," Millard said. "But I also communicate with the crew chief throughout the race. He'll want to adjust how the car handles, and tires is one of the ways he can do that. I can help the crew chief find that delicate balance he's seeking throughout the race, so we're in constant communication."
Millard says identifying the best part of his job is easy.
"Winning," he said, without hesitation.
So obviously losing is the worst part, right?
"Yeah," Millard said. "Obviously, we can't win every race. but when something is out of your control like what happened to us at Michigan this year, it's frustrating."