CONCORD, N.C. -- Andy Papathanassiou is back and ready for the final four of the "North Jersey's Greatest Male Athlete." The former pit crew athlete has been part of his hometown New Jersey newspaper, "The Bergen Record's," contest since the beginning of the 64-person bracket challenge.
Papathanassiou, who is known for revolutionizing the way pit crews operate, joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1993 -- the year Jeff Gordon started racing for the organization.
To change the working order of the pit crews, Papathanassiou said there was a natural waiting period to see if treating the pit stops like an athletic event would actually work. That meant being patient and believing that his plan would fall into place.
"When I started in NASCAR, even though I had the sports background, I had to make the decision to try and invent myself all over again," he said. "The message is to follow your goals, follow your dreams, don't let them drop off your list. And no matter how seemingly odd your goals might be, if they make sense to you and you can see a way to achieve those dreams, it's going to give you a great life."
Trying to get others on board with his revamped way of running a pit crew was a different story. Papathanassiou said the most difficult aspect was how hard he worked in the beginning to lay a foundation down for his strategies.
"If you can see you're making progress in the direction you want to go, you stick with it," he said. "That's the toughest part -- the beginning. You work the hardest and have the least to show for it."
Before he joined Hendrick Motorsports in North Carolina, Papathanassiou was a prolific track and football athlete. He was the New Jersey shot put record holder for over a decade, played football at Stanford and still holds the Bergen County shot put record.
To vote for Papathanassiou in the "North Jersey's Greatest Male Athlete" challenge and see the field of competitors, click here. Voting in the fifth round starts May 28 and goes through May 29 at 7 p.m. ET.