NASCAR

Matthew Philpott Works Way Below The Radar Scope

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In any sport there are team players who are very key to the success of the team.  Many times it is the quarterback or the star running back on the football team, it could be the home run hitter on the baseball team, or it might be the big scorer on the basketball team who are the face of the team.  However in some instances, those key team players may be operating below the radar, and thus do not receive much, or any, credit for their hard work.

Many of the pit crew members in NASCAR are those type of stealthy race team members, the unsung heroes.  One such individual is the tire specialist for Richard Childress Racing’s XFINITY No. 33 Chevy, Matthew Philpott.  I recently got the opportunity to sit down with Matthew to ask a few questions to try to get a feel for what it took for him to ascend to this level, his work schedule, work duties, etc.

Take a few minutes and read what it is like to be a tire specialist for an XFINITY race team.

Leon Hammack:  Give us some background info on yourself, what city did you grow up in, educational background, etc.?

Matthew Philpott:  I grew up in Tracy CA, and went to Tracy High School where I played baseball and football.  After my graduation in 2004, I went to Cuesta Junior college in San Luis Obispo, CA, where I played catcher for the baseball team. From Cuesta I went to Lambuth University in Jackson, TN, on a baseball scholarship.  In 2009, I came back home to go to work and to race late models with my family.

LH:  What and when sparked your interest in racing?

MP:  My family has been in racing for years starting with my grandfather in the 70’s, then my father David, cousin Doug, as well as my uncle Steve. The family racing business continues with my brother Justin and cousin Ryan, racing late models and K&N West Series cars around the West Coast.  My dad was a two-time late model champion at Stockton 99 Speedway in Stockton, CA.  Additionally my brother was also a two time track champion at the same track.  Ryan won a track championship at Altamont Speedway in 2007.  So as you can see, racing is just what my family has done for a long time.

LH:  When did you realize that you wanted to be a part of racing, what steps did you take educationally, or via networking, etc., to make those dreams begin to come to fruition?

MP:   I have just always loved working on race cars.  I have learned a lot from my dad and grandfather.  In 2012 a friend of mine told me that Thorsport Racing, in Sandusky Ohio, was starting a third Camping World Series truck team.  They were looking for mechanics for their new team, which turned out to be the No. 98 Tundra driven by Dakota Armstrong.

LH:  What was your first job, paid or volunteer, with a race team, and what were your duties?

MP:  My first full time job was at Thorsport Racing in Sandusky, Ohio.

LH:  What led up to you getting employment at the NASCAR level?

MP:  From the support from my family, and all the knowledge they have given to me growing up.

LH:  What led up to you gaining employment at ThorSport Racing, how long did you work at ThorSport Racing, and what were your duties while you were there?

MP:  Mainly just knowing the right people, and being at a place in my life that allowed me to pursue my passion of racing, and being able to do it for a living, was very key. I worked for Thorsport Racing from the end of 2011 through 2014. I was the jackman/mechanic on the Matt Crafton No. 88 truck during the championship seasons of 2013 and 2014 season.

LH:  What was your high point(s) while at ThorSport Racing?

MP:  The high point was winning back-to-back Camping World Truck Series championships in 2013 and 2014.

LH:  What factors led to you taking a job at Richard Childress Racing?

MP:  I got an opportunity to move up in my career and to work at one of the best companies in NASCAR.  That opportunity was something that I couldn’t pass it up.

LH:  What is your job description, what are your duties at Richard Childress Racing?

MP:  I am the tire specialist on the RCR No. 33 Xfinity team.  This team has had a variety of drivers that include Austin Dillon, Paul Menard, and Brandon Jones.

LH:  What does your average work week look like, report and stop times, pit practice durations, etc?

MP:  We report for work Monday-Thursday at 7am and leave at 4pm.  On Friday we travel to the racetrack, and race on Saturday.

LH:  What are some of the major challenges that you face on a daily basis at Richard Childress Racing?

MP:  The challenge is to try to be the best teammate I can be, and continue doing my very best everyday day.  Hopefully, the rest will take care of itself.

LH:  Do you have any interests or hobbies outside of racing?

MP:  I like playing softball for my church in the summer, and spending time with my wife Brooke.  I am looking forward to welcoming our daughter Peyton Marie into the world in the first part of October. Brooke and I couldn’t be more excited about where we are with our lives right now.

LH:  What are you the most proud of professionally, personally?

MP:  I would have to say I’m most proud of what kind of man I have grown up to be.  I am proud that my dad and mom raised me right, taught me how to work hard, and to never give up on your dreams. Personally I’m more proud to welcome my daughter into the world, and hopefully Brooke and I can raise our daughter to become a wonderful little girl.

LH:  What are your strongest traits, and how will that help you through the bumps and the uncertainty of the NASCAR world?

MP:  I would have to say my work ethic and willing to win is my strongest trait.  Additionally, I’m a very competitive person in everything I do.  I always try to be the best husband, friend, and employee I can be day in and day out.

LH:  What advice would you have for all the young kids that have their sights set on being a part of a NASCAR race team?

MP:  Just never give up on what you have your sights on.  If you can dream it, then you can accomplish it with hard work and dedication.

Matthew has sipped the champagne twice on championship teams with Matt Crafton and Thorsports in 2013 and 2014.  This year he has moved over to Richard Childress Racing’s XFINITY team, and in spite of having multiple drivers like Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, and Brandon Jones, this race team has been highly competitive, capturing two wins.
There is the old cliche that says “you win as a team and you loose as a team”.  It is very true in the sport of automobile racing.  You are only as good as your weakest link.  In NASCAR we generally only see the driver or the crew chief as the face of the team.  But it takes a number of devoted individuals to band together to put the team above any personal gains.  It appears that Matthew Philpott defines that addage.  In his position, he is one of those men who are “down and dirty”, performing his job in the trenches week in and week for the benefit of the team.
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About Leon Hammack

Leon Hammack is a retired airline pilot and avid race fan. Leon is a contributing writer and photographer for all three of NASCAR's touring series, as well as sprint car and midget racing. A native of Fresno, CA now wintering in Yuma, AZ., additionally, he spends the summer months near Coos Bay, OR. You may contact Leon on Twitter @captainblowdri

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6 Comments

  1. Steve Avila

    September 8, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    It is very exciting to see Matt progress through the ranks of NASCAR Racing! Watching him from his home town in Tracy Ca is really a rush. You can always spot him cause he’s the shortest guy on the team, but his love for the sport and his work ethic makes him a GIANT in my book!!! I am proud to consider him my FRIEND!’

  2. Bobby Moehring

    September 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm

    i have known Matt since he was born I have watched him play ball race Big wheels at Stockton 99 speedway worked with him on the Philpott race team all I can say is RCR has a very great team member

  3. Jamie Philpott

    September 9, 2015 at 2:53 am

    I have watched Matt grow from a boy into a man. He has always been a hard worker and team player. He always gives 100% of himself and puts his heart and soul in everything he does. He has the never give up attitude and strives to be the best in all that he does. We love that we can see him on TV and get so excited every time we see him. His family and friends could not be more proud of Matt for following his dreams. Congratulations Matthew Philpott. Love you!

  4. Wes Huffman

    September 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    We are part of the very large extended Philpott family. We were their fans, then their friends and finally a race team they helped and raced against. Matt is a fine representative of their competitive spirit and positive attitude.
    We were even fortunate enough to have Matt help build one of our race cars. He was between gigs and came by to help us.
    Thank you Matthew for your help and congratulations on your success!

    Wes Huffman

  5. Ed Correia

    September 9, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Good job Matt it is nice to see you are living your dream & on top team keep up the hard work have fun you have always had lot of energy & been good person enjoy every minute Sincerely Eddie Correia

  6. Nathan Ramos

    February 18, 2019 at 2:39 am

    Congrats Matt ! Very proud of you !

    Nathan Ramos

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