Behind the Scenes: Car Chief Jonathan Davis Fills Many Roles for the No. 5 Team

Ron Lemasters | 7/13/2017

Behind the Scenes Michael Annett News Pilot Flying J

JRM's employee spotlight series, Behind the Scenes, returns to feature Jonathan Davis, the car chief for Michael Annett's No. 5 Pilot Flying J entry.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (July 13, 2017) – A car chief’s job is never done. There’s always something to do, something to fix, something to problem-solve, all while making the team, the driver and especially the crew chief look good.

Jonathan Davis, who is the car chief on the No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet driven by Michael Annett, does that every week, and has for the past two seasons with JR Motorsports. Last year, he was the car (Truck) chief for the No. 00 Chevrolet Silverado that Cole Custer drove in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and played a starring role in the breakup of the Custer-John Hunter Nemechek dustup at Canadian Tire Raceway Park along the way. Davis arrived soon after Custer made the open-field tackle on Nemechek and got between the two, ending the fracas before it got going good.

The 37-year-old native of Mountain Top, Pa. got into the business at an early age through his father, Barry. The elder Davis, an anesthesiologist, moved his family down to North Carolina where he ran the anesthesia department at Lake Norman Regional Medical Center. He had been involved in racing in the Keystone State and came south to participate in NASCAR, and Jonathan had been as well.

“My dad always had race cars, owned them and sponsored them, and he got me into racing through all that,” Davis said. “He was going to move down here to start a Busch Series team in the 1990s, and the driver who was driving for us didn’t want to move down here. He didn’t want to start a team for someone he didn’t know to drive it, but we decided to move anyway.

“We moved down here my junior year of high school, and I graduated from Mooresville Senior High and pretty much worked for a race team every day since then.”

His first job was helping JRM Director of Competition Ryan Pemberton on Mac Martin’s Chevrolet, then driven by Larry Pearson.

“When that team kind of closed down, all the guys on that team went to MB2 Motorsports with Derrike Cope,” Davis said.

Stints at three other NASCAR teams and a couple of ARCA teams followed, and he came to JRM in December 2013. Davis spent three seasons as the front mechanic on JRM’s No. 7 team before switching to car chief for the Truck Series team in 2016. He joined the No. 5 Pilot Flying J team this season in the same position.

Davis’ weekly schedule is fairly scripted, he said.

“The car chief sets up the racecar on Monday mornings,” he said. “You get to the shop, get all your things organized for the next week’s race, and get your final scale numbers in the car so you can take it to the pull-down rig. Mainly, you work a week ahead, so Mondays are already kind of set into play from the week before.

“When I get to the shop, I’ll final-scale my primary car for that week, take it to the pull-down rig Monday afternoon,” he said, ticking items off. “Tuesdays are checklists, setting splitters and pans and all that stuff, all our detail stuff to be ready to load on Wednesdays. In the afternoons, you’re working on the following week’s car, which kind of starts your ‘Monday.’ You will go through the setup sheet, make sure all the slugs are right, all the pivots are in the right place and get it measured for when we leave so you can have a direction for the engineers and the changes they want to make. On the following Monday, when we get here, I can change anything that needs to be changed and get to the pull-down rig.”

During the races, Davis is the crew chief on the ground. Jason Stockert calls the race from the pit box, and Davis makes sure the crew is the right place at the right time for whatever needs to be accomplished. He’s the one Stockert calls to organize the chaotic scene in the pit stall during stops and repairs.

Davis and his wife Meredith, the licensing administrator at JRM, live in Mooresville with daughters Callahan and Claudia. 

XFINITY Series Schedule

  • June 30 03:30 PM ET
    Overton's 300Chicagoland Speedway
  • July 6 07:30 PM ET
    Firecracker 250Daytona International Speedway
  • July 13 08:00 PM ET
    Alsco 300Kentucky Speedway
  • July 21 04:00 PM ET
    Lakes Region 200New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • July 28 03:30 PM ET
    U.S. Cellular 250Iowa Speedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Iowa 250

Iowa Speedway | 6/17/2018
1Elliott Sadler5040
2Cole Custer500-4
3Daniel Hemric497-7
4Tyler Reddick #473-31
5Christopher Bell #471-33
6Justin Allgaier453-51
7Brandon Jones431-73
15Michael Annett267-237