CONCORD, N.C. -- As the Hendrick Motorsports teams head to Michigan International Speedway for an action-packed doubleheader weekend, one crew member is excited to return to his home track.
Brandon Harder is the fueler for the No. 48 team and calls the Michigan venue his hometown track. While Harder is from Oak Harbor, Ohio, he still looks forward to coming back to race at the track he's most familiar with.
“Going there, it's just cool to reminisce on how far I have come,” Harder said. “As a kid watching the sport, and now actually working in it for 13 years or 14 years, it’s kind of a full-circle deal on my part when I go there.”
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing policies in place, Harder will not see his family or gather with hometown friends like he normally does.
“I used to say I can see some family and friends but that isn’t going to happen this time,” Harder said. “I always enjoy going back there to see people that I know or (hearing from) people who would call or text before the race.”
Michigan’s 2020 race weekend is looking like anything but normal, and Harder is ready to be “at home” and compete for the two-day segment of the Cup Series schedule.
“It’s more of a mindset, getting your mind right to know you’re going to have to do that many races,” said Harder. “It’s just extra reps and trying to keep your mindset right, especially with how hot it has been outside. It’s been terrible, so hydration has been key and taking each time as what it is.”
As Harder and the No. 48 team head to Michigan for Jimmie Johnson’s final races as a full-time driver, Harder knows this is a special time for Johnson and wants him to make the best of an atypical year.
“To me, it means a lot to have him as a driver. He is such a great dude on and off the track and I have a lot of respect for him,” said Harder. “To be with him for as long as I have been has been great and been a heck of a ride.”
Check out Harder and the rest of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team as they take on Michigan International Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 4 p.m. ET and Sunday, Aug. 9 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Both races will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN Radio and SiriusXM.