Bootie Barker joins Blaney as Crew Chief

Robert Barker joins ...

Bootie Barker joins Blaney as Crew Chief

Robert Barker joins #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions team as Crew Chief for Dave Blaney.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Robert "Bootie" Barker has been named as crew chief for the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford Team and driver Dave Blaney. Barker will assume his role immediately after serving two full seasons as crew chief for the #23 Bill Davis Racing team and driver Scott Wimmer in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Barker, 31, is a former chassis/shock specialist for the #24 Hendrick Motorsports team for four-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon (1999-2000) and for the #22 Bill Davis Racing team and driver Ward Burton (1998-99). He rejoined BDR in fall, 2000 as crew chief for Wimmer, then a recent graduate of the American Speed Association (ASA), and flourished in his first managerial role, guiding Wimmer to four NASCAR Busch Series victories and finishes of 11th and third, respectively, in the NBS standings (2000-2001) with limited sponsorship support.

"Every guy in my position wants to compete against the best, and this opportunity to work with the Jasper team and Dave gives me the platform to race against the best in the world every week in the Winston Cup Series" said Barker, who helped Gordon win five WC races at four different tracks in alliance with then-#24 crew chief Ray Evernham during his 15-month sabbatical to the #24 team between his two stints at BDR.

"People say it all the time in positive situations, but it really is a dream come true for me. I've worked with Dave before and we had success right from the start, so I know our communication and our ideas about the cars are on a similar level. I really enjoyed my time at Bill Davis Racing, and especially working with Scott. He's a star of the future, for sure, and that made this decision really tough.

"Bill and Gail Davis gave me a chance to find out whether I could run my own program and make all the decisions crew chiefs are faced with to make cars go fast. They always gave us everything we needed to race at the front every week, even though we didn't have the sort of sponsorships some other teams had. I'll never be able to thank them enough. But this chance with Dave is my chance to move forward and find out what I really can do against the best. That's what it's about for me."

A native of Halifax, Va., Barker began his motorsports career working on Late Model Stock Cars for current Busch Series regular Ashton Lewis while still in college. He graduated from Old Dominion University in 1996 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Prior to joining the #22 BDR team in 1998, Barker worked as a chassis specialist for owner Kurt Roehrig in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

In guiding Wimmer in his Busch Series championship run during the 2002 season, Barker's BDR Pontiac entries earned BGN victories at Dover, Memphis, Phoenix and Miami in the final quarter of the season and posted 25 top-ten finishes in 70 total races with Wimmer (2000-02). Barker's entries also completed all but 345 of 6,546 total laps (including 274 laps in two of four DNFs) in 2002 and continued a two-season trend in which he helped Wimmer improve his start/finish ratio in 55 of the 60 races he finished, including all but three races this season.

Barker also directed a limited NASCAR Winston Cup Series program at BDR for Wimmer this season, including starts at Bristol and Phoenix. In his first career WC

start, Wimmer finished 22nd (and led nine laps) in an unexpected debut with Crew Chief Barker at Atlanta (11/00) when his scheduled ARCA qualifying was rained out and Car Owner Davis opted for an attempt to make the WC field.

"We're excited about being able to add Robert to our race team, which we believe made significant strides with Dave in his first season in our cars," said Doug Bawel, President, Jasper Engines & Transmissions and co-owner of the #77 Jasper Ford. ""Bootie" brings with him great engineering expertise, but has also shown an ability to take his engineering skills and apply them to on-track performance with his drivers. In the past years, his cars helped Scott Wimmer challenge for the NASCAR Busch Series championship and win four of the last eight races of the season. We believe he certainly has the ability to take Jasper Motorsports to the next level."

For the 2003 season, Barker joins Blaney and a #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team that was among the most improved NASCAR Winston Cup programs, finishing 19th in the final 2002 WC standings and dramatically improving its consistency in its first season with the former BDR driver.

"With his engineering background and what he's shown as a winning Busch Series crew chief over the past two seasons, Bootie was at the top of my list when we knew a change was going to be made with our crew chief position," said Blaney, who finished third at both Dover and Charlotte in fall, 2000 in BDR Busch Series entries as well as his final WC race for BDR in 2002 at Atlanta (qualified a career-best third, led 16 laps before engine failure) with Barker at the helm.

"He's worked with a championship-level Winston Cup program in an integral position and knows what it takes to build a program that can run at the front and win races. That's what we were looking for with the #77 Jasper team to help move us ahead even further after this season. We worked together in a few races at BDR and it was easy to see what his potentials were once he got the opportunity to run his own Winston Cup team. I can't wait to get started."


WS: WM: Stewart returns to his roots

Previous article

WS: WM: Stewart returns to his roots

Next article

Earnhardt Jr - 2002 "In the Rearview Mirror"

Earnhardt Jr - 2002 "In the Rearview Mirror"
Load comments
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

Feb 11, 2021