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#Hendrick30th spotlight: From football to racing, coach Darius Dewberry shares his story

I grew up in Fort Valley, Georgia, a small town with just three stoplights and less than 10,000 people.  It’s the kind of place where life is slower, the peaches are sweeter and everyone makes time to attend the local high school football games on Friday nights in the fall. A close-knit community, there’s a deep sense of camaraderie in Fort Valley, which is a quality that has been important to me for as long as I can remember. 

So when I walked into Hendrick Motorsports for my first day of work on June 15, 2013, and saw the solidarity among the team, I knew it was meant to be my new home. 

It wasn’t always a part of my plan to be in the racing industry. Before I arrived at Hendrick Motorsports, the closest I had been to NASCAR was watching “Talladega Nights.”  In the world of sports, football was my first love. I had grown up loving the sport and spent four years playing outside linebacker at the University of Georgia. Needless to say, I dreamed of playing in the NFL. But that’s a tough career path and when things didn’t work out, I began to search for a new endeavor. 

The opportunity I was looking for came with a phone call from Hendrick Motorsports. Mark Morrison, the head strength and conditioning coach, wanted me to join his team. I didn’t hesitate – I packed my bags and moved as soon as I could for this new adventure. 

My athletic background has really been beneficial in helping me to understand the pit crew members. Most of the guys are former collegiate athletes, which makes our mentalities and work ethic similar. These guys know that you’ve got to work hard for everything in sports – nothing is going to be given to you. 

As an assistant strength and conditioning coach, I help develop speed and agility drills for all the teams. During the hot summer months, we take these drills outside for what is called “heat training.” We also hold team competitions during these months, just to get the guys’ competitive juices flowing. Everybody, from the most experienced Cup guys to the new crew members who are still learning the ropes, steps up during these competitions, which makes the experience even more enjoyable. 

Having been part of the Hendrick Motorsports family for almost a year now, I’ve learned a lot about the racing world. However, there’s one thing I haven’t done – watched a live NASCAR race. That will change after this weekend, when I go to the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (North Carolina) Motor Speedway. I can’t wait to hear the ear-piercing air guns, feel the rumbling of unrestricted engines and see the guys I’ve spent the past year training make Hendrick Motorsports proud. 

Darius Dewberry

Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach

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