"Six guys. Four 70-pound tires and an 80-pound gas can. Tires changed. Car refueled — in 12 seconds. Often in temps above 100 degrees. It’s just another day on a NASCAR Pit Crew."
“I grew up in Taylorsville, North Carolina. I played the typical sports: football, basketball, baseball. I wasn’t really into NASCAR, which is kind of funny considering where I’ve ended up, working on the pit crew for Team 48 and Jimmie Johnson. But I guess you never know. I do remember Sunday mornings growing up. We’d come home from church, my Dad would switch on the television and we’d watch the NASCAR races together. So it definitely was a family ritual.”
“So how did I end up getting a coveted spot as a rear-tire changer for Jimmie? Well it goes back to college. I was the first in my family to actually go to college, so that was something I was proud of. After my freshman year I transferred to Appalachian State University; I played baseball and earned my degree there. I was looking forward to graduate school to become a physical therapist. I had pretty much come to terms with the idea that I wasn’t going to pursue a career as an athlete. Then I got an email out of the blue that changed everything. It was from Hendrick Motorsports. They were looking to recruit top college athletes for their pit crews.”
“This was when Hendrick was changing its hiring philosophy. They used to hire young mechanics and work to improve their speed. Now they were hiring athletes who’d already proven they had speed, dexterity and experience working as a team — and could teach them the mechanics. In the early 2000s pit stops ran about 17 seconds. Now, working with athletes they were getting down to 12 seconds or less. I did a two-day trial. It was just like an NFL Combine tryout. We did the L-Drill and the 5-10-5. We bench pressed and jumped rope. I made a callback where we performed basic pit stop movements, and then I made the final cut! This was eight years ago and I’ve never looked back.”
“It’s been a great gift because it’s a way for me to continue doing what I love: staying competitive, pushing myself, being part of a team…”
“It’s been a great gift because it’s a way for me to continue doing what I love: staying competitive, pushing myself, being part of a team working toward a single goal. You’ve got to be constantly focused, ready to perform. And there’s a saying: ‘If you’re not getting better, you’re regressing.’ We’re constantly looking for ways to improve, whether it’s your equipment or your performance. We watch tape of every pit stop and look for ways to get faster.”
“I’m happy to share this story because I’m sure many fans of the sport may not know much about the crews. And I’m grateful to be working with Jimmie Johnson. I mean the guy is arguably the greatest driver today — he’s won seven NASCAR Cup Championships — and it hasn’t changed who he is. He’s a regular guy and you can talk to him like just one of the guys. This is a pretty great spot to be in.”