CONCORD, N.C. -- Members of the No. 9 team continue to be honored more than a month after Chase Elliott brought home the NASCAR Cup Series championship. Mason Jennings, the tire specialist for the No. 9 team, was honored with the Champion Tire & Wheel ‘Consistently Smooth’ award on Tuesday.
The award is presented to a standout tire specialist in the Cup Series. Jennings announced the winner at the Dawsonville Pool Hall in Dawsonville, Georgia, which is Chase Elliott’s hometown. Jennings said he had an idea he was being honored with the award when he was told to arrive at the Dawsonville Pool Hall and meet up with Elliott, crew chief Alan Gustafson and others. He said the hard work he put in with Hendrick Motorsports paid off in the biggest way.
“When I moved here 23 years ago from Oklahoma, I never thought I’d have accomplished all of this,” Jennings said. “The way 2020 has gone down, and then for it to end like this, I’m very humbled and very grateful.”
Jennings’ job is crucial to the No. 9 team. He oversees checking and preparing each tire that goes on to the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. More than 2,500 tires and wheels are used throughout the full race season and it’s essential the tires used, the air pressure and the kinds of wheels all make the right formula for a fast race car.
Jennings said the pressure to win the final Round of 8 race at Martinsville was huge, which helped the No. 9 team fight the jitters at the Championship 4 race in Phoenix. He added that the No. 9 Chevrolet being sent to the rear due to inspection issues was a blessing in disguise.
“Phoenix seemed like a normal race day,” Jennings said. “There wasn’t a lot of sitting around and thinking about it; we got our car through tech and it was go time. When we got moved to the back, I knew it was our best opportunity.”
For Jennings, 2021 won’t be much different in terms of preparation. The tire specialist said the crew’s aspirations were simple and direct.
“Go out and repeat,” Jennings said of his 2021 goals. “Win more races. The races we should have won this past year, we need to go win those races and go out and dominate.”