Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wayne Auton gets new job


Hickory native new NASCAR Nationwide Series director

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:19 pm | Updated: 8:47 pm, Wed Dec 19, 2012.

Hickory native Wayne Auton says he was shocked last week when he was asked to become director of NASCAR’s Nationwide Series.

“I didn’t see that one coming,” said Auton, who was director of the NASCAR Truck Series from 1995 until this week.

Auton, 54 and a 1976 graduate of St. Stephens High, says he met Tuesday, Dec. 11 with NASCAR officials Mike Helton, president; Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition; John Darby, Sprint Cup Series director, and Steve O’Donnell, senior vice president of racing operations.
“Mike asked me if I would like to be the NASCAR Nationwide Series director,” Auton said. “I said ‘wow,’ and he said, ‘I’ll ask again; would you be the Nationwide Series director?’ And I said ‘wow.’ ”
Obviously, he also said yes.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Auton said. “I’m glad they have faith in me.”
He added that, yes, it’s also a step up.
“I go from the No. 3 racing series in motorsports today, and I’ll move to the No. 2 racing circuit in world. It’s a pretty great step,” he said.
With the announcement on Tuesday, Auton replaces Joe Balash, who will take a new position as international competition liaison. Former Cup driver Chad Little, NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour series director and director of racing development in Mexico, will replace Auton as truck series director.
Brad Moran, currently NASCAR Canadian Tire Series director, will take over as director of the NASCAR Touring series.
The series director is responsible for the technical inspection process as well as determining penalties during a race. Auton and Little will report to Darby.
Auton says that he worked in 1982 with Robert Black, the first Busch (now Nationwide) Series director.
“I thought, ‘How awesome would it be to have that job?’ ” Auton said. “I thought that maybe someday the opportunity would come for myself.”
It came, and he’s pleased with the move.
“I felt it was a chance to move up the ladder in NASCAR,” he said. “I’m proud of what we’ve done with the Truck Series and hope we can do the same for the Nationwide Series.”
In 1991, current NASCAR chief Brian France asked Auton to take over as director of the NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series. “I thought that was the coolest thing in the world,” Auton said. “Then I took over the Truck Series in 1995 (its inaugural year), and it’s been my baby for 18 years.
“It’s like having daughters come of age, going to a wedding and giving them away. Now, I gave my baby to Chad Little. He’s been with the Mexico series since it started, and the Truck Series in good hands. He’ll do a great job.”
Auton says that he got 120 texts and phone calls of congratulations between 3 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday. One call was from Truck Series champion James Buescher.
“James Buescher called and said, ‘You talked me into going into the Truck Series, and now you’re leaving it. That’s BS,’ ” Auton said with a laugh.
Auton was jokingly asked when he’ll take over as Sprint Cup Series director.
"I’m not,” he said. “Let me get through the first day of the Nationwide Series first.”

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