Pinkerton Produces Penske Material at the Race Shop

August 24, 2021


"Penske Material" provides an inside look at some of the personalities, stories and moments that make Team Penske so unique.

Penske Material isn’t something that only exists at a racetrack. The halls of the Team Penske facility in Mooresville, NC are filled with men and women that proudly show their Penske Material every day away from the track and Kyle Pinkerton is a perfect example.

Pinkerton, 39, joined Team Penske in 2011 and he works as an assembly mechanic in the team’s NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) program. He assembles the front suspension of the Ford Mustangs driven by reigning NXS champion Austin Cindric, working closely with the NXS team leader Kenny Crissman. When Pinkerton first joined Team Penske, he worked closely with crew chief Jeremy Bullins on the setup of the team’s technical partner No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing car. Pinkerton continued to work with Bullins through the 2020 season. In addition to his role with the organization’s NXS program, Pinkerton has also done setup work for the No. 33 NASCAR Cup Series Ford Mustang driven by Cindric at select events this season.

Traveling on the road with the team to races in no longer part of Pinkerton’s job description, however. The native of New Sharon, Iowa, said he loves being a key part of the team working back at the race shop – especially after a win.

“The Happy Hours are really cool,” said Pinkerton describing the organized celebrations at the Team Penske facility when team members all gather together after a race victory. “Everybody gets to hang out and spend an hour together watching a little bit of the race and hearing the stories about what happened. I don’t always get to watch the races so it’s definitely neat to get the full weekend recap.”

Pinkerton’s career in racing began when he was just eight years old. His uncle Tim began racing a hobby stock car at the local dirt track and young Kyle would tag along to help. As a teenager, Pinkerton also assisted his cousin Brad, who raced in IMCA stock cars and then IMCA and USMTS modifieds. Together, the small family-run team found success winning races. As a result, Pinkerton developed a love of motorsports and an appreciation for the comradery and the competition that drive those that work within the sport.

        

“I wasn’t good at team sports like basketball and football, but I liked being part of a team,” said Pinkerton. “Being a mechanic and being a part of the team is just something I’ve always enjoyed.”

After graduating high school in 2000, Pinkerton packed up and headed east from Iowa to North Carolina in pursuit of his racing dream. He studied auto mechanics at a local community college and he began to network in hopes of landing a job. 

“I figured if I couldn’t make it in racing, I could always be an auto mechanic,” said Pinkerton. “I made some connections. You know how racing works – you meet somebody that leads you to somebody. I did some Hooters Pro Cup races back then and that led to some late model guys working at Hickory (Motor Speedway), which eventually to the Truck Series and Xfinity Series.”

The new opportunities took Pinkerton on the road and he became a pit crew member that went over the wall to change tires. In 2003, he joined what is now JTG Daugherty Racing and met Bullins, who currently serves at the crew chief for the No. 2 Ford Mustang driven by Brad Keselowski. Bullins and Pinkerton were the two youngest members of the team at the time and they developed a close friendship.

“They hired me when I was 21 years old, and I didn’t have a ton of experience at the time,” recalled Pinkerton. “Jeremy was the other young guy. He’s three or four years older than me, so he and I were the younger guys there. Everybody else on the team was married and had kids. Jeremy and I were roommates on the road and got to be good friends. We both came here to Team Penske within a couple of months of each other 10 years ago.”

After the conclusion of the 2004 season Pinkerton married his wife, Leah. His last full season traveling with a race team was in 2005 before he transitioned to working in the race shop. The Pinkertons have three children: Alivia, Asher, Averly.

“After I got married, my wife Leah moved here from Ohio and it was kind of like she didn’t know anybody here,” said Pinkerton. “I realized pretty quick that we were either going to stay married or I was going to travel with the race team. I decided I wanted to stay married and here we are.”

Pinkerton said his goal each week is to help deliver the best car possible to the track that is reliable and ready to race across the finish line. He takes a lot of pride in his craftsmanship and his dedication in reaching those goals every race.

“The main thing is continuing to do the best I can every day,” he said. “Wherever the company needs me, whatever they ask me to do, I want to do it the best I can.”