Following the second straight win for Chris Buescher and the No. 17 team for RFK Racing, spotter Mike Herman, Jr. joined Racing America’s “The Bullring” this week to discuss the team’s momentum to close out the regular season.
Two weeks ago, Buescher won at Richmond Raceway, and he backed that up on Monday by taking the checkered flag at Michigan International Speedway. Herman admits that, while the team ran well at Richmond last year, they were more optimistic about the upcoming races at Indianapolis, Watkins Glen and Daytona.
“Our thought process was, when we were trying to point our way into the playoffs, if we could just get through Richmond and Michigan and get to the road courses and get to Daytona, we were going to be in good shape,” said Herman. “We’ve run good at Richmond in the past. We had a shot to win the summer race there last year and knew we would be strong.”
With the win at Richmond, Buescher no longer has to worry about making the playoffs on points. With the win at Michigan, the garage has been put on notice going into the playoffs.
“We go there, and we back that up and knock off a win,” said Herman. “Then we go to Michigan, and all of a sudden, execute the way we did, and knock off another win. It just changes the narrative, so it’s been big for us.”
Herman has been with the team for the better part of a decade and watched its revitalization first-hand.
“I’ve been here at Roush for a long time. I came here in 2014. I’ve seen the last 10 years of how things have went and the way it’s progressed, the work that’s been put into it. Then, when BK came in and it became RFK, it’s been neat to be part of that process.
“All of a sudden, it starts firing on all eight cylinders and everybody’s pulling the rope in the same direction, and the results start paying off.”
Brad Keselowski buying in as a co-owner of the team starting in 2022 has been a critical part of that evolution, combining his own expertise with the long-time success of Jack Roush and the team that began as Roush Racing.
“Brad came in and brought a fresh new mindset. Probably a new way of thinking, but he really gives everyone the tools and the resources to do their individual jobs. It changed the culture. It’s not that the culture was bad the way it was before, but it was time to evolve and time to change.”
“Jack [Roush], he’s here today. Jack’s very much still involved. It’s a blend of the old-school way of Roush Racing versus Brad coming in with his fresh, modern philosophies. We use things we learned years ago to apply to days like yesterday. It just gives us the tools for success.”
Spotters such as Herman may be an overlooked part of a winning team effort, but they play an important role on race day. Herman acknowledged that, as Monday’s race drew to a close and Buescher battled Martin Truex, Jr. for the win, his personal experience helped to guide Buescher from the spotter’s stand.
“I know that on the TV broadcast, it was a narrative brought up about the camera. You’re still making a left-hand turn at 180 miles per hour getting into a corner, and the camera’s shooting straight out the back. You have to be able to predict what line he’s going to run before you even see it. That camera is not going to replace the right human being giving the right information.
“Chris made every move that I told him to make to cover the 19. You’re never going to make up for that experience someone like myself has earned over the years. I’ve watched Truex race for the past 10 years. I spotted for Truex in 2013. Being able to know what these drivers are going to do and trying to predict that, the camera can’t do all that. You’re never going to replace what a spotter does in that situation.”
"The Bullring" is a weekly talk show hosted by Alan Dietz and Jess Ballard, bringing the biggest names in racing together to break down what happened the previous weekend, or look ahead to the biggest events next weekend. The Bullring is free to watch for all viewers every Wednesday at 7 PM on RacingAmerica.TV and Racing America's social media platforms, and the replay is available at any time afterward.
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