Trent Owens’ Career Path Leads Back To Petty
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chief Trent Owens was only 4 months old when his father lost his life in a freak pit accident at Talladega.
That May 4 in the Winston 500 19-year-old Randy Owens was attempting to extinguish a fire in a left front wheel bearing on the No. 43 Dodge when the pressurized water tank he was using malfunctioned and exploded. Owens – Richard Petty’s brother-in-law – was killed instantly.
Even though Trent never knew his father, he still followed the racing path he had begun; one that has now led him back to the No. 43. This year the 39-year-old Owens takes over as Aric Almirola’s crew chief at Richard Petty Motorsports, heading up the operation on a car where his father once worked.
“It never crossed my mind that I would have the opportunity to come back to Petty and be the crew chief of the Cup team,” Owens said. “I can tell you I was excited when those guys showed interest and interviewed me. They couldn’t have picked a better guy to try to get this car back into victory lane.”
Owens worked at Petty Enterprises while in high school and later at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. He made his debut in NASCAR’s truck series in 2001, racing the Dickies Ford at Pikes Peak. The young Owens started 32nd and finished 19th. He drove a limited schedule for Billy Ballew Motorsports in 2002 and even though he recorded top-20 finishes in all but one event, he was released due to funding issues.
The following year Owens left his driving behind and began working with a young Clint Bowyer for his ARCA debut at Nashville Speedway. Bowyer caught Richard Childress’ attention with a second-place finish. Then, in 2006, Owens worked for Braun Racing, later Turner Motorsports and finally Turner Scott Motorsports in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. While in that crew chief position Owens scored victories with five different drivers and assisted Kyle Larson in his 2013 rookie title.
“Look how many different drivers he’s had driving that car and they still win races,” Petty responded when asked why he decided to hire his nephew for the No. 43 crew chief position. “He’s very versatile to be able to work with different talents.”
Petty said Owens resembles his father in the sense that he’s so “gung ho.”
“Racing was the No. 1 thing in their deal and that’s what they went for,” Petty said.
Even though racing took the older Owens’ life, Trent said he never considered not pursuing a racing career because “I knew that was his passion.”
“In a lot of ways, I know he would be extremely proud and in a lot of ways I feel like I’m continuing what he was trying to do,” Owens said. “Not knowing him, it is special that I’m working on the same car that he was working on.”
– Deb Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments