Editor’s Note: Scott Miller is in his first season as NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. The April issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine profiled Miller and various other changes that have been made within NASCAR’s hierarchy. Here’s an excerpt from that story.
NASCAR sent a message to its teams and drivers when the sanctioning body hired Scott Miller to replace Robin Pemberton as senior vice president of competition in early December.
Compared to Chase Elliott taking over Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet, Miller’s appointment drew little attention. But in the constantly evolving world of NASCAR’s leadership dynamic, Miller taking Pemberton’s post was monumental.
NASCAR proved it values the feedback of team leaders.
Miller was the executive vice president for Michael Waltrip Racing from 2012-’15, but he was also a crew chief for 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races while at MWR. The former Richard Childress Racing executive won six races in a career atop the pit box that spanned from 2001-’13. His résumé is versatile, which is important in his new job.
Miller stepped into a leadership trio with Steve O’Donnell and Gene Stefanyshyn at NASCAR’s competition offices in Concord, N.C. The hiring of Miller means someone with recent racing experience is helping call the shots.
Pemberton, a renowned crew chief during the 1990s, played a pivotal role in NASCAR’s competition department. He championed safety development, looked to give smaller teams a more level playing field and coined the phrase, “Boys, have at it,” which became a rallying cry for fans who wanted hard-nosed racing without knee-jerk penalties.
By the time Pemberton vacated his position as NASCAR vice president of competition, he hadn’t been a crew chief for 15 years.
Miller brings a fresh set of eyes from the garage, which gives teams the feeling they’ve got one of their own in charge. That’s the good news. The bad news: Someone who’s been within the team atmosphere recently also has a great idea of where teams try to bend the rules. Miller doesn’t like it when people bend the rules. But he does like to be challenged.
Miller said in late January he was still learning the scope of his new role.
“Moving from one side of the fence to the other, obviously, the winters are super hectic on the race teams’ side and it’s just work at a break-neck pace,” Miller said. “It’s been exactly the same on (the management) side. Just a whole different set of challenges that I’m learning every day. The job is still developing and I’m still understanding and analyzing where my time is best spent in helping us grow the sport. The organization of NASCAR has a lot more diverse responsibilities than my position at a race team.”