Team Penske Car Chief, Cody Sauls Turned Short Track Passion Into A NASCAR Careerby Hunter Thomas August 30, 2019 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Team Penske car chief, Cody Sauls always looks forward to race week at his home state track, Darlington Raceway.
Growing up, Sauls and his father attend races weekly at Anderson Motor Speedway and Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina’s Upstate. It was their way of bonding and how they spent their weekends primarily throughout the summer.
“My dad, he did a little bit of Street Stock racing, and once I was born, he really couldn’t afford to have kids and race, so we would just go watch at Anderson, South Carolina a lot and Greenville-Pickens (Speedway) really about every weekend,” Sauls said. “We’d go Friday and Saturday. I think Friday at Anderson and Saturday at Greenville-Pickens. That was kind of our summer weekend thing.”
After living in the Upstate, Sauls then moved to Hampton, South Carolina. While living in the Lowcountry, he’d help out his cousin’s husband who raced at Oglethorpe Speedway Park in Savannah, Georgia as well as at a track in Hardeeville, South Carolina.
After high school, Sauls even attempted to race himself as well. He built a Street Stock and attempted to compete at Anderson Motor Speedway on a couple of occasions, but very quickly, Sauls realized that a career working on race cars was going to be much more lucrative than his driving.
“After high school, I started working in racing, I built a Street Stock and ran Anderson, South Carolina with it,” Sauls said. “I just ran a few races, and I found out I didn’t have the talent or the money to be a race car driver.”
Right after Sauls finished his education at NASCAR Technical Institute, he started working for Laughlin Performance, a Pro Cup team that was based out of Greenville, South Carolina. While working with the team, he learned about chassis and how to fabricate. The team also ran in a few Busch North events as well.
In 2012, Sauls got his big break at Rockingham Speedway when he served as crew chief for Young’s Motorsports with driver Tyler Young. Sauls and the team qualified 26th and finished 28th. Late that season, he worked with the team at Kentucky Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway.
“We put the truck together and went to Rockingham,” Sauls said. “My first NASCAR race, I was baptized by fire. I was crew chief for a truck at Rockingham, so I was a little over my head there.”
Following his stint at Young’s Motorsports, he solidified a job at Team Penske where he now serves at the car chief for the No. 22 NASCAR Xfinity Series team. This season, the team is doing really well with Austin Cindric behind the wheel. The team has accumulated two wins, 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 23 starts. Cindric enters Darlington Raceway coming off a runner-up finish at Road America. Sauls was on the team last year when Brad Keselowski won the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington.
So, what does a car chief do during a race weekend? At Darlington this weekend, Sauls will oversee every aspect of the car to make sure that it fits the rulebook. He will also make sure that whatever adjustments are made, that the team doesn’t give up any performance. He’ll assist the front end, rear end or engine guy depending on who has the most workload at the time. If the driver earns a Darlington Stripe or crashes even harder, then things get complicated very quickly for Sauls.
“Pretty much, I kind of just delegate a lot to the guys,” Sauls said. “In NASCAR, they have a team roster, so you can’t bring of all the fabricators, and you can’t just have unlimited people at the track, so I usually handle any body adjustments or fixing that we need done.”
With Hampton being only about 2.5 hours away, Sauls gets to see all of his family and friends while working the race at Darlington Raceway. During the weekend, he visits his friends in the campsites and enjoys the company. Being on the road nearly every weekend can be grueling, so it’s always a good time when crew members like Sauls can see their family and friends when racing close to home.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway will broadcast live on NBC and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 31.
Photo Credit: Jessica Morse/Team Penske