NASCAR tire carrier a Wisconsin native, keeps life interesting

Paul Swan

The NASCAR Cup Series took over the streets of Chicago on the Fourth of July weekend.

Even though it was a rain-shortened race, Oconomowoc native Paul Swan got to return home to the Midwest.

"Chicago is still really cool," said Paul Swan, lead tire carrier for Austin Dillon's No. 3 car. "It's about two hours from where I live, so the family comes up sometimes and, you know, it's just fun being up there. The street race aspect really adds a different element into it. I mean, we're doing our pit stops in a road that's normally busy with pedestrian traffic every week."

That's what makes the job fun for Swan.

He's the lead tire carrier for Austin Dillon's No. 3 car on the NASCAR circuit.

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Hauling heavy tires and changing them out for Dillon during pit stops is an important job. After all, it can make or break a driver's position or even their results in a race.

"It's a big deal when the stops aren't good because, you know, now it's kind of hard with these new cars to pass on the track," said Swan. "Pit road is more crucial than it's ever been because you could gain a lot of spots or you could lose a lot of spots and maybe not gain that back or also on the better end, you're not going to lose those spots maybe on the track. If you're picking up spots like that on pit road it's a big deal, and like you said, if you have a bad stop it's really going to screw the team if you don't get the lug nuts tight. If you go out and the wheel falls off, your race is pretty much over."

That has kept things interesting ever since Swan joined Dillon's pit crew in 2018. 

The job was different from what Swan thought he'd be doing a decade ago when he first came to Richard Childress Racing.

"I knew nothing about NASCAR," said Swan. "I was a football player all my life, played in college, then was going to be a strength coach in college and got hooked up with RCR and some other teams. They talked about how these pit crew members go from being an athlete to being on these pit crews. They're looking for speed and athleticism, so I'm like, man that sounds great."

From there, the rest was history.

Swan and Dillon became best friends and were even on a reality TV show together with their wives called "Austin Dillon's Life in the Fast Lane."

One of their favorite memories comes together on the track, when Dillon won the Daytona 500 in 2018. 

Daytona 500, file

"It’s one of the best memories of my life," said Swan. "We had such an incredible time winning it, celebrating it. It was so fun, because you never know when your last race win is going to come, you know? That could have been my first and last. Luckily, we've won a couple more since then."

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One of the veterans now at RCR, Swan signed an extension and will continue to hone his craft with his team until at least 2028.

"I'm a complete meathead," said Swan. "Like that's been me all my life. I've been a football player all my life. Being able to be a meathead for my job is crazy. Like I wake up feeling blessed every day that this is my job and I get to go in and do what I get to do week in and week out and, on the weekends, and it's just so much fun. It really is."

Up next, Swan and his entire team will head to Pocono Raceway for NASCAR's Great American Getaway 400 in Pennsylvania.