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Getting to know Clint Jennings, shock specialist for the No. 5

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 1, 2009) – Clint Jennings will be the first to tell you shocks and bump stops are critical at the fast-paced, bumpy Atlanta Motor Speedway. Clint, one of four shock specialists at Hendrick Motorsports, prepares Mark Martin’s No. 5 Chevrolets at each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. Recently, we caught up with Clint:

Full name:  Clinton Albert Jennings
Hometown: Logan, Ohio.

High School:  Logan High School, in Logan.

College: Northwestern College, a technical school in Lima, Ohio. I graduated in 1997 with a degree in automotive mechanics.

Job duties: Shock specialist for the No. 5 Chevrolet. I’m in charge of shocks and bump stops; I track our seven post testing here at the shop and help analyze the data we collect.

Time at current job: I’ve been here since May 2007.

Years in racing:  13 total.

First racing job:  I started in 1996 sweeping the floors and organizing bolt bins at Shawn Bayliff Racing in Ohio. I ended up being the car chief before I left in 2000 to pursue opportunities in the CART Atlantic series with driver Alex Gurney among others. In 2003, I worked as a race engineer on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team with drivers Brendan Gaughan and Steve Park, but I also went over the wall as the rear-tire carrier.

First job overall: Paper route. I had to get up early. The sun wasn’t even up yet, and anytime you’re up before the sun, that’s way too early. I think I had to lie about my age to get the job, actually. I think I was 12, and you had to be 14. I got the job because I wanted a bicycle. My mom said that to get a bicycle I needed to save money. I said, ‘I don’t get an allowance.’ She said, ‘Get a job.’ So I did.

One thing people wouldn’t know about you:  I got fired from my job delivering pizzas as a teenager. I drove too fast and the pizza would end up on one side of the box by the time I got to my destination. You do that a couple times a night for a couple weeks, and it’s not good.

Best racing memory:  It’s still yet to come.

Hobbies outside of racing:  Scuba diving. I just started doing it, but I like going to the Keys and anywhere there’s warm water. I also enjoy motocross.
Favorite sport other than racing:  Karaoke.

When I’m not at the track you can find me: Poppin’ wheelies on my dirt bike.

On an off weekend you can find me:  Fishing or on an island somewhere.

Favorite movies:  “Dumb and Dumber,” “Smokey and the Bandit,” “Pulp Fiction,” “National Lampoon’s Vacation.”

Favorite music: I like everything—heavy metal, rock, jazz, rap, jam, alternative, etc.

Daily driver 2001 Chevy Silverado. I’ve always been a Chevy guy. They’re more consistent with the mechanics of the car, the wiring and parts. It’s easier to work on.

Dream car: Tucker.

If I could meet anyone, I’d meet: My soul mate.

Favorite food:  Seafood.

Before the race, I always: I get a fresh hat. That way I make sure I have the right hat on for the weekend.

During a pit stop: I catch the right front tire.

I knew I wanted a job in NASCAR because: I had to change jobs every three years in other series. I wanted a more consistent environment. And it’s the most competitive racing in the world.

On why shocks are especially crucial at Atlanta: Atlanta is a bumpy, rough, old racetrack and fast. There’s a lot of suspension movement because of the bumps, and the shocks are one of the things that help keep control and comfort in the car.

On preparing for Atlanta: We predetermine our packages on the seven post. We figure out what we’re going to try that weekend, and then when we get on the racetrack, depending on how the car is reacting, we might try a couple different shock packages to accommodate that. We do the same thing with our bump stops, and we’ll develop a couple different packages for that also on the seven post.

On what’s it like to work with Mark Martin: Very educational. I would say more on just life things in general than race car stuff. He’s got such experience and knowledge not just with race cars but with different situations that you encounter in life. He can explain things well. He’s an inspirational role model. He’s in better shape than probably any of us.

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