CONCORD, N.C. (WJZY) - Do you think you have what it takes to become part of a NASCAR pit crew? Fans saw during the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night the importance of quick stops on pit lane. Pit crews are often the deciding factor on what driver heads to victory lane.
With so much on the line, NASCAR’s top teams are now getting very specific on the criteria to become a pit crew member.
So you want to join a pit crew? Well get ready for some early mornings! At Hendrick Motorsports workouts start when the sun comes up.
“The biggest thing is our season is so long. We need to keep them healthy throughout the whole year,” said Strength Coach, Mark Morrison.
Pit crews travel for more than 36 weeks across the NASCAR circuit. With victories and millions of dollars in payouts on the line, NASCAR’s top teams already know who has what it takes.
“We do look for former athletes,” said Morrison.
Athletes like Dustin Lineback, who is a former college football player, is now the front tire carrier for the #88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“10 years ago this was my plan B, obviously my first plan was to play in the NFL and that got cut real short,” said Lineback.
Getting the car off pit road first is just as challenging as Lineback’s time on the field.
“You don’t’ get 80 chances to get your 10 right,” said Lineback.
It’s a feeling shared by his fellow crew, who are also former college athletes.
“Football team has a lot more guys. 6 guys are out here taking care of business so it’s mentally [challenging] as much as it is physically,” said Rowdy Harrell, who is a rear tire carrier.
The challenge to beat the stop watch brings along some familiar faces. Pit crews have a coach similar to a college football team.
“We watch film with the guys, critique how they can better with their skill set. We practice them out on an actual race car,” said Pit Crew Coach, Chris Krieg.
Krieg, a former college football coach, says the race against the clock to be the best on pit lane never ends.
“When I first got here 3 years ago, which is not that long ago, you were happy with a 12.4 second stop,” said Krieg.
Now that time is closer to 11 seconds. Still, the success on the stopwatch remains a mental and physical challenge.
“We try to strive for accuracy here at Hendrick Motorsports and we feel that is going to give us the fastest pit stop time,” said Krieg.
Although many of the pit crew members are former college athletes, they say being a part of NASCAR is still a team sport.