Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

February 9, 12:30 PM ET
Chat with Ron Malec

Buzzmaster
  (12:25 PM)

Jimmie Johnson's car chief Ron Malec will be here at 12:30 p.m. ET to take your NASCAR questions! Send them in now.

Steve (NJ)

How many people are you talking to during the race?

Ron Malec
  (12:33 PM)

I'm in communication with the crew chief and the pit crew. I choreograph what Chad wants to do during the race and I coordinate with the pit coach and the guys who go over the wall.

Dave

How weird is it for the team to have cameras following you around for HBO's show?

Ron Malec
  (12:34 PM)

It was a little uncomfortable at first, because you have to remember what you're saying. You get comfortable after a while and you just do your job as you normally do. It really portrays what the crew does at the race track and that it's a lot of work.

Freddy (TX)

What's the biggest concern of yours in your job?

Ron Malec
  (12:34 PM)

To make sure that the car is prepared well and that it's right mechanically. That its set up well. Nothing comes loose or breaks. That's my concern pretty much the entire weekend.

Regina (Asheville, NC)

Do you miss going "over the wall" as a member of the pit crew?

Ron Malec
  (12:36 PM)

There are times when I definitley miss it and there are times when I don't. The times when you make a difference in the race, yeah. But I feel like I'm still a part of it. There are days when you wish you were a part of it, but then there are the days when your back is hurting when you get to the race.

Ray (CT)

In your opinion what effect will the new spoiler have on racing?Have you started testing it yet?

Ron Malec
  (12:37 PM)

I think the new spoiler will make it more in the driver's hands. You're not so aero dependant. It puts more front down force on the car, which you're lacking when you're behind someone. We'll have to see when we get to the track, but I think it's a little bit easier to work with than the wing. I think NASCAR is making a wise decision and the cars will look better also.

Dave (Boston)

Ron, are you busier during the week or during the race?

Ron Malec
  (12:38 PM)

I would say during the week. There is a lot of preparation that goes on with the car before you get to the track. On Tuesday and Wednesday, you're loading up the truck and on Friday, it's the longest day of the weekend. You go through technical inspection. That's the most work that goes on. During the race, I'm more of a middle man. More hands on work during the week.

Rick48Fan (Phiily)

Congratulations on 4 in a row. You have been with JJ since before he started in Cup. How has he evolved as a driver and how have you been able to keep up with all the changes

Ron Malec
  (12:39 PM)

I've been with Jimmie since he started racing cars on asphalt. I've known he's had a feel for the car since I started talking to him. I looked forward when we changed to the COT, because he adapts well. I've evolved with him. I've gotten better because I've worked with him for so long.

Patricia (Georgia)

I was curious as whether you watched the ARCA race Saturday and if so, what did you think of Danica's save?

Ron Malec
  (12:40 PM)

Yeah, it was before the Shootout, so we had some time after the inspection. I thought she did a good job. I'm curious to see how she does in the Nationwide race on Saturday. I think she'll do well.

Kyle (VA)

How much do you interact with the "over the wall" crew during a race?

Ron Malec
  (12:41 PM)

I'm pretty much a guy that's pretty hands on with the crew. I understand the pit stop procedure, because I did it for so long. I can interact with them right away and make a decision with them to make an adjustment that Chad is asking for. I'm pretty much hands on with them for 100% of the race.

jack

do you have input on adjustments to the car? Or is it just Chad and Jimmie?

Ron Malec
  (12:43 PM)

Chad makes most of the suggestions during the race. If we need to make an adjustment on the race car and it will effect something mechanically, I'll say something to Jimmie. I will give some advice if he asks me for it. I try to leave that up to Greg, the engineer. If it doesn't effect the car mechanically, I don't get involved.

Stan

what's the one thing you guys have to adjust the most?

Ron Malec
  (12:43 PM)

I would say we move the track bar a lot during practice. We do adjust the crossway. We adjust the shocks a lot. There is a lot with the shocks now adays. We have a very intricate simluation program that corelates well with the race track.

Chad (GA)

How closely do you work with Jason Burdett, Jeff Gordon's car Chief?

Ron Malec
  (12:45 PM)

Yeah, actually Jason and I work hand in hand all day long. We check in with each other. If we change one thing on a car, we check with each other, because it will be the same with both cars. As far as our two teams, we work very close together. And our engineers work closely with each other.

Ben (VA)

What is your all time favorite aspect of racing?

Ron Malec
  (12:45 PM)

I think it's the competition level. It's the drive to win every week. Obviously, to maintain the level we're at right now is a lot of effort. I love the challenge to maintain the top of where we are. It's a level of competitiveness that's hard to reach. It's what we have to do and expected of us, working at Hendricks.

Ron Malec
  (12:46 PM)

I would just like to thank everyone for their questions and thanks for your support during the season.