The first time Colon met driver Ward Burton, for example, slow-drawling Burton threw his hands up in disgust, saying he couldn't understand a thing she was saying.
"What do you think?" Colon shot back. "Everybody can understand you?"
Although engineers aren't well known to NASCAR fans, they are far from anonymous in the garages, where their computer-assisted work on engines, aerodynamics and other technical issues are critical to keeping cars competitive. And as GM's program manager, Colon also serves as the liaison between Chevy's teams and the NASCAR hierarchy.
"She doesn't have the easiest job in the world, I can tell you that," says Knaus. "She has to deal with NASCAR and she's got to deal with competitors. She's in the middle of that and it's a tough place to be."
Yet, she has won respect on both sides. Knaus calls her "extremely valuable" and NASCAR rules chief Robin Pemberton calls her "one of the most well respected people in the garages."