CONCORD, N.C. -- Every summer when the Olympics take precedent, the best athletes from across the world take center stage to compete, bring home gold medals in the name of their countries and cement themselves in history.
While the Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs have the minds and talents to bring a car to victory lane in the NASCAR Cup Series, they also have dabbled in other sports recreationally. No. 9 crew chief Alan Gustafson is an avid mountain biker and trains daily on his bike, which is why he would tackle that sport if he was an Olympian.
“It’s a sport that I love, participate in myself and follow pretty closely, so I’m excited to watch it,” Gustafson said. “There’s some amazing athletes from all over the world. We have an American in the female ranks who is really, really good who has a good chance to win. Yeah, that would be it without hesitation. I’m excited to watch it – I’ve had it circled on my calendar.”
While No. 24 crew chief Rudy Fugle doesn’t have experience as a track and field athlete, the multi-faceted aspect of the sport has always been fascinating to him.
I’ve always thought it would be cool to learn shotput and disc and some of the other different events,” Fugle said. “Javelin – that one looks cool. I always thought those kind of events looked fun. I am interested in watching some of that stuff live and being part of that. You don’t see those sports on TV much, so it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Cliff Daniels, the crew chief of the No. 5 team, credited training for athletic events through the Jimmie Johnson Foundation as a litmus test to what his Olympic event would be. Even though Daniels has experience with biking and running, he said he would love to represent Team USA as a swimmer.
“It would be anything long-distance swimming because I’ve had a brief window into what that world is when I trained for some Jimmie Johnson Foundation triathlons,” Daniels explained. “I have no speed, but the longer-distance training and what that requires seems more natural to me, so I have a little real-world experience with that.”
While vice president of competition and former crew chief Chad Knaus has more than 25 years of experience on pit road, his chosen Olympic sports isn’t quite as chaotic but requires agility and discipline.
“I think for the Summer Olympics I would definitely go with fencing, because why not?” he said.
The Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday with the Opening Ceremony. After that, the Games will be full speed ahead until the Closing Ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 8. That same day, the NASCAR Cup Series will return to action at Watkins Glen starting at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.