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Max Siegel always refers to the “athletes” in his Rev Racing stable, not the “drivers,” as is the common standard practice in the NASCAR garage.
One of those athletes, Kyle Larson, won a pair of races this season to help Siegel and Rev Racing to its first-ever NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2012.
“Coming from a sports background in general and coming to NASCAR, there are a lot of physical and mental requirements,” Siegel said. “They are, to me, world-class athletes.”
It is not just lip service from Siegel, either, who first began fielding K&N Pro Series teams through the NASCAR Drive For Diversity initiative in 2010. He overhauled the organization prior to the 2012 campaign to make better use of all the pieces – from crew chiefs to crew members to drivers – in his stable.
Siegel mentioned a conference for elite Olympic track and field athletes that he attended, where world-renowned coaches talked about five things – talent, technique, tactics, toughness and training.
“For us, that's everything,” Siegel said. “This sport is physically draining, and you have to be mentally aware of what's going on. You have to have the knowledge of what you're doing on the track, as conditions change, and you have to have the right planning and training to compete at a high level. Then, with all of that, you have to execute it through using all of those techniques out on the track.
“You have to have seat time, it's an important piece. But wheeling these cars around the way you do, it's physically tiring and you still have to be able to think quickly and process everything to have success.”
Rev Racing was close to championships in both 2010 and 2011 with driver Darrell Wallace Jr. But this year, sealing the championship with one of the four cars Rev Racing fields in the K&N Pro Series East served as validation for Siegel.
Bryan Ortiz finished fifth in the final standings to give Rev Racing two of the Top-5 drivers in the final point standings for the second consecutive season.
“I wanted to become the premier talent-development organization (in the series), with both crew members and drivers,” Siegel said. “For me, organizationally it validates our approach to it. We've had some talented young drivers – whether it was Darrell or Sergio (Pena, who have moved on to other teams), to now having a young crop of drivers. What we've done every year is try to take the things we've done well from an organizational standpoint and improve them.
“It's about having both the organizational infrastructure in place and then filling in the people that had the right chemistry.”