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CONCORD, N.C. – Every year, thousands of amateur athletes dream of continuing their career into the professional ranks.

At Hendrick Motorsports, that dream is given the chance to live on, albeit in a sport the athletes might not have considered: professional stock car racing.

Through the organization’s developmental program, it has a track record of working with collegiate athletes from across the country and positioning them onto pit crews at NASCAR’s most elite level, the Sprint Cup Series.

Wednesday afternoon on the Hendrick Motorsports campus in Concord, North Carolina, the organization held its very first Signing Day ceremony to celebrate the newest class of pit crew recruits.

“It’s really neat to be a part of the first Signing Day ever for Hendrick Motorsports for the pit development program,” Hendrick Motorsports President Marshall Carlson said. “It’s a tradition in other sports. If you look at what we tried to do over the last few years really elevating our whole athletic department and these athletes — bring them in and trying to get out to a wider range of recruits – the investments we’ve made in coaching, the facilities, it’s really fitting that we would start to do some of the traditional things that other sports do to celebrate the success that the coaches and the recruiting class are bringing to our company.”

Director of Human Performance Andy Papathanassiou introduced the new athletes, several of whom had brought family and friends to take in the ceremony.

“In this particular class, we brought in seven athletes,” Papathanassiou said. “Our classes have ranged from seven to about a dozen. Year after year we start recruiting, gathering 50 names, knock that down to about 30 that we see in person, and we physically evaluate them. We bring in 20 for a two-day minicamp where we put pit crew equipment, pit stop stuff in their hands and then pick our recruiting class from there. These are the winners of a very long and arduous process.”

Below is a quick glance at the newest developmental pit crew members:


Spencer Bishop
Pit Crew Position: Tire Carrier
Hometown: Pinehurst, North Carolina
College: Wake Forest University
Major: Communications/Psychology
Background: At Wake Forest University, Bishop played tight end on the football team. In 2012 and 2013, he was nominated for the Burlsworth Award for best college football player who began his career as a walk-on.

Ryan Cheek
Pit Crew Position: Jackman
Hometown: Lancaster, Ohio
College: North Carolina State University
Major: History
Background: As a linebacker and fullback at N.C. State, Cheek earned the Team Before Self Award.

Rod Cox
Pit Crew Position: Tire Changer
Hometown: Tuscaurora, North Carolina
College: North Carolina State University
Major: Civil Engineering
Background: While at NC State, Cox played cornerback, linebacker and safety on the football team. As a walk-on, he earned the Michael J. Hardy Award (2013), Special Teams Player of the Year (2013) and Elite II Award (2013).

Matt Lehman
Pit Crew Position: Fueler/Jackman
Hometown: Newport, Pennsylvania
College: Penn State
Major: Kinesiology
Background: Lehman played as a tight end while studying at Penn State. Post-graduation, the Pennsylvania native tried out with the Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans.

Mike McClure
Pit Crew Position: Fueler/Jackman
Hometown: Holland, Michigan
College: Michigan State University
Major: Education
Background: McClure was an All-American college wrestler at Michigan State University. He excelled in his studies, also achieving All-American in academics.

Roman Perryman
Pit Crew Position: Tire Changer
Hometown: Springfield, Virginia
College: West Virginia University
Major: Sports and Exercise Psychology
Background: Perryman was the 2015 Big 12 Championship runner-up in wrestling his senior year at West Virginia University.

Max Thomusseit
Pit Crew Position: Tire Carrier
Hometown: St. Paris, Ohio
College: University of Pittsburgh
Major: Communications
Background: As a wrestler, Thomusseit was a four-time NCAA national qualifier at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also the younger brother of Zach Thomusseit, who joined Hendrick Motorsports’ pit crew in 2014.