LOUDON, N.H.—Nick Harrison, the affable crew chief for the No. 11 Kaulig Racing team and driver Justin Haley, has passed away. He was 37.
Kaulig Racing released the following statement early Sunday morning: “It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Nick Harrison, our beloved crew chief of the No. 11 car at Kaulig Racing. Please keep Nick’s family in your thoughts and prayers.”
The Columbia, Tenn., native was mentored early in his career by Sterling Marlin. He quickly rose through the mechanic ranks and was promoted to crew chief for Steadman Marlin in 2006. By 2009, Harrison had found a home with James Finch’s Phoenix Racing in Spartanburg, S.C.
“He’d been around racing for a long, long time, his whole life,” Finch said. “I knew Nick and Sterling when they were hanging around Coo Coo Marlin (Sterling’s father). He worked hard enough to do the job. And he was smart. He was a good one. If I ever went back to racing, he was going to be the first one I called. Maybe the Lord will start a team. He’ll call on Nick first.”
Harrison’s first victory came at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2009 when Brad Keselowski won his first career Cup race with Phoenix Racing. Harrison also called the race when Mike Bliss won the 2009 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. He would go on to work with NASCAR champions Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte. Harrison led Busch to the July Nationwide Series win at Daytona in 2012.
When Finch decided to sell Phoenix Racing to Harry Scott in 2013, Harrison joined Richard Childress Racing.
In more than a decade as a crew chief, Harrison also won with Paul Menard and Austin Dillon. He was recruited this year to work with rookie Haley.
Dillon tweeted: Words can’t describe how I feel about @NickHarrison111. The man was one of the first people to believe in me in the Cup series. He gave me an opportunity to drive for James Finch which gave me confidence to believe in myself at the top level. We were able to win together multiple times in @XfinityRacing and a win in @NASCAR_Trucks. My favorite thing to this day to hear over the radio was his voice saying Hauling Balls. I hope today I hear it on the radio as we give it all we got on the track today for Nick.
NASCAR added, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of long-time crew chief Nick Harrison, and offer our thoughts, prayers and support to his family, friends and Kaulig Racing colleagues.”