Drivers get around the half-mile bullring in about 15 seconds, and potential trouble lurks around every turn. With that being said, Tab Boyd certainly had his work cut out for him on Saturday night at he tried to keep Joey Logano one step ahead of the mayhem during the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
Boyd has been spotting for Logano on the Monster Energy Cup Series since 2013. Before that, he worked with Danica Patrick and Juan Pablo Montoya.
By Saturday afternoon, the adrenaline was already starting to flow for Boyd as he prepared to climb high above the speedway to be Logano’s eye in the sky.
“It’s a very challenging racetrack even though it’s one of my favorites and I love it,” Boyd said. “It’s just a challenge to be able to make it through the 500 laps. From the drop of the green flag, the intensity is at 100 percent.”
Boyd said BMS is one of the top-three toughest tracks on the circuit for a spotter because trouble can materialize just about anywhere on the track at any time. Once a wreck happens, cars tend to wash down the high banks, leaving cars trying to slow up behind the incident with nowhere to go.
To make a long story short, Boyd has to have his eyes on the entire track as he tries to help Logano thread his No. 22 Ford through the field.
“I’m watching everything, whether it be looking ahead, watching him as well as watching other cars that are faster,” Boyd said.
Another challenge in the past year has been the rosin that has been applied to the bottom groove of the track in order to make the bottom groove faster. The rosin fades as the race wears on, so the racing groove inevitably moves up to the top as the race wears on.
“You have guys that are really fast on the top and guys that are really fast on the bottom, and then you try to decipher that and let him know what’s going on every 15 seconds, so it’s pretty intense,” Boyd said.
As strange as it sounds, the best thing that can happen to a spotter at BMS is a long green-flag run. Pit stops under yellow are always chaotic, especially with the dual pit roads that are unique to Bristol. Boyd said spotters prefer to have pit stalls on the front straightaway, because that allows them a better view of the action from their vantage point above the entrance to Turn 1.
When the laps start ticking off under green, Boyd says he can find a flow.
“You’ve got to get that out of your mouth really quickly whenever it’s happening,” he said. “Once you get into a rhythm, everything works out.”
Even after five years with the same driver, Boyd said he’s always trying to refine his delivery and become more efficient with his words in order to keep Logano informed and out of trouble. On nights when it all comes together and the No. 22 Ford comes through unscathed, Boyd leaves Bristol with an extra spring in his step.
“There’s a lot of pride in that,” he said. “That goes for anybody. Even if you run in the top 10, it’s a hard-fought top-10. But sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and you have to pick up and go to the next week.”