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A Winning Pair: Husband & Wife Driving Team Keeps NASCAR on the Move

By: Tom Kelley

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Michael Waltrip Racing married driving team

Ask most any truck driver what’s on their list of dream team driving jobs, and chances are, 8 out of 10 would include driving a hauler for a NASCAR team. For a select few CDL holders, that dream is a reality. While many parts of a NASCAR trucker’s job might sound dream-like, it’s not all about celebrity and race-day glory.

A Team’s Driving Team

In the community of NASCAR hauler drivers, Bill “Stump” Lewis is not only one of the best-known, he’s also one of the most-accomplished among this exclusive fraternity. Even though Stump’s achievements are noteworthy, his co-driver brings a more unique element to the team.

Stump’s co-driver and wife, Cindy, is currently the only female hauler driver on the NASCAR circuit, which also makes the pair the only husband and wife driving team in the sport.

Currently driving for Michael Waltrip Racing’s NAPA Auto Parts team, Stump and Cindy rely on a 2013 Freightliner Coronado tractor pulling a custom-built 53’ Featherlite trailer to get race-driver Martin Truex Jr’s #56 Toyota Camry, along with a small warehouse full of parts and tools, to racetracks every weekend during the Sprint Cup season.

Working with his father at a construction company in Cambridge, Maryland, Stump got his truck driving start in his mid-teens moving dump trucks around the equipment yard. Like many of us who learned at the hands-on school of driving, gaining successful backing skills was a requirement for graduation; a capability that would later serve him well in the tightly choreographed garage-area truck parking arrangements at each weekend’s race.

Having honed his skills in construction and other driving pursuits, Stump got his start driving NASCAR haulers in 1995 when he joined the Active Motorsports team. Shortly after getting his start as a hauler driver, Stump asked his wife to join him as a co-driver in 1997. Later positions at Jasper Motorsports and Penske Racing preceded the pair’s move to Michael Waltrip Racing in 2011.

A Winning Record

Recognition of Stump’s driving talent isn’t limited to his colleagues and employers; he’s also a multi-year winner of the Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge, with three podium finishes, including two times in top place. Added to that, his record includes another three podium finishes in similar events pre-dating the Run Smart Challenge.

A timed competition, Freightliner’s Run Smart Hauler Challenge event features specially designed courses that test a hauler driver’s skill with tight turns, backing drills, and other cone/barrel obstacles. For the 2012 season, Stump took home the second-place prize money of $20,000.00, while prior first-place wins in 2007 and 2009 netted him $30,000.00 each.

Fast Turnaround

With 23 track locations stretching from Homestead, Florida to Sonoma, California; from Phoenix, Arizona to Loudon, New Hampshire; and a schedule that spans 38 weeks, there’s little time off for a hauler driver on the Sprint Cup circuit. When the season concludes, there’s just a short break for the year-end holidays before returning to prep for the next season’s opener in Daytona.

During the race season, every week is busy, arriving at each track and unloading equipment on Thursday, unloading cars and organizing everything on Friday. Race day is actually downtime for the hauler drivers, allowing sufficient off-duty time to meet HOS regulations. Once the truck returns to the shop for unloading and reloading on Monday, the drivers take their weekend “reset” time before starting all over again for the next race. For this reason, all of Michael Waltrip Racing’s haulers have a dedicated two-person driving team.

Faster Food

For the first part of the 2013 season, Cindy will partially step away from her driving role to fill in for the team’s cook. No less demanding than managing a hauler, the team cook’s duties are also a major exercise in logistics.

Every day at the track, Cindy will prepare a minimum of two meals plus snacks for a crowd ranging from 100 on weekdays, to as many as 200 on race day. The typical grocery run for a weekend will fill three or more warehouse club shopping carts, including up to 300 pounds of meat.

Spec’ed To Win

Stump’s 2013 Coronado is provided by Freightliner as part of its sponsorship of Michael Waltrip Racing. Unlike many of the Freightliner tractors placed with NASCAR teams, Stump had his custom-spec’ed for low tare weight, maximizing the amount of gear he can carry to each race. Today’s Sprint Cup team haulers run much closer to maximum GVW than those of just a decade ago, so every pound matters.

Opting for the Detroit DD15 engine, instead of the higher-powered DD16, allowed the use of lighter drivetrain components, trimming roughly 1,800 pounds off the tractor’s tare weight. Even though the DD15 engine produces less horsepower than the DD16, Stump says he’s still able to keep within a few truck-lengths of the DD16-equipped rigs when pulling long, steep grades.

Where The Fans Are

With roughly 80% of truck drivers counting themselves among NASCAR’s fan-base, Freightliner’s sponsorship of the sport keeps the company’s products in front of a dedicated brand-loyal audience. In addition to high visibility in their key market, participation in NASCAR affords Freightliner to host one-of-a-kind VIP networking events with current and future customers at racetracks around the country.

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