Matt Kenseth “auditioned” spotters before picking his new one


Spotter Chris Osborne didn’t know at the time that he was part of a two-month audition process conducted by driver Matt Kenseth and crew chief Jason Ratcliff.

But the man who goes by the handle @crazy_spotter on Twitter passed the meticulous test admirably and now is installed as spotter for Kenseth and his new No. 20 Toyota team at Joe Gibbs Racing.

One area of concern to the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, after he announced plans to leave Roush Fenway Racing and join the Gibbs organization, was finding a spotter to replace Mike Calinoff, who opted to remain with Roush Fenway.

Calinoff and Kenseth had a rhythm and repartee that would be difficult to duplicate. That’s why Kenseth and Ratcliff listened to hours of audio before making their choice.

“I did a lot of research last year — Jason and I did — before we really interviewed or offered a job to a spotter,” Kenseth told the NASCAR Wire Service on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “I listened to a lot of different audio… I was so sick of listening to spotters and drivers and crew chiefs talking back and forth.

“I just listened to a lot of audio from different races that we recorded, so I could listen to different spotters and their style, without them knowing that you’re listening to them.”

More than anything else, Kenseth was looking for a spotter who fit his laid-back style. He found that in Osborne, who was spotter for the No. 22 car at Penske Racing.

“There’s a lot of things I look for,” said Kenseth, the defending Daytona 500 champion and a two-time winner of NASCAR’s most important race. “One thing is the way they talk, how clear they sound, their accent — all that stuff, so it’s something you can understand — somebody that doesn’t get excited, somebody that’s calm, and gives you all the information.

“I was excited with what I heard (with Osborne), and that being said, when you do that research, you don’t want to find somebody where you need to change 10 things. I liked the information that he was giving the other guys, and I was like, ‘Man, just go do your deal; if we have to make any adjustment, we’ll make ’em.’ And we really haven’t had to make any adjustments. I haven’t really told him to do anything different.

“We tried to do our research. It took a couple months to figure out who we wanted, if we could get him, and that was Chris.”