What do NASCAR and fuel economy have in common?

Race car or truck, driver training and skill lead to winning teams

Wow, what a great day. Trucking Efficiency hosted an event on September 15 at Hendrick Motorsports in Concord, NC. Attendees got to see first-hand the effort and precision that go into being one of NASCAR’s premiere racing teams. Our timing was perfect as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has begun and three Hendrick Motorsports drivers; Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, are all in contention.

We started the day with a tour of Henrick’s campus, which is quite an impressive operation. We saw Hendrick employees working on chassis, building engines and repairing vehicles all in preparation for upcoming races.

I was struck by how much work goes into making these multimillion-dollar cars and by the fact that no matter how well made the cars are ultimately it is the skill of the driver that determines the outcome of the race. 

When you think about it things are not much different in the trucking industry.

And the panel discussion we had with Jim Boyd of Southeastern Freight Lines, Stu Russoli of Mack and Lee Gallant of Detroit Diesel, and moderated by Michael Yount formerly with Piedmont Natural Gas, confirmed my beliefs.

They talked about a wide range of subjects and fielded questions from the audience. While discussion included comments about what fleets and vehicle manufacturers are doing to add technology that improves fuel economy, the big takeaway was how vitally important it is to consider the driver in your fuel economy technology decisions and help them learn to best take advantage of each.

Much like the NASCAR teams rely on their drivers to properly handle the well-crafted cars, fleets rely on drivers to skillfully drive trucks in a way that maximizes their investment in fuel saving technology.

But just like Hendrick Motorsports won’t turn its cars over to a driver who has not spent countless hours being trained in the proper way to drive, fleet owners should not assume that their drivers know the right way to drive in a fuel efficient manner. If you want to get the most out of your technology investments you need to take the time and invest in training not only during driver orientation but whenever you bring a new technology into your fleet.

After all, without well-trained drivers you’ll never see the checkered flag of high miles per gallon.

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