CONCORD N.C.– As Hendrick Motorsports prepares for the second race of the West Coast swing, two team members look forward to returning to their hometowns.
Nick Covey, jackman on the No. 88 team, grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.
Prior to joining the pit crew, Covey played football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers from 2005 to 2009. While he wasn't a big fan of racing growing up, after college he heard about a pit crew tryout and decided to give it a shot. Covey made the team in 2009 and has been traveling with the No. 88 ever since.
Each season, Covey gets the chance to return home to Phoenix during the West Coast swing and again during the play-offs. Although his immediate family now lives locally in the Charlotte, North Carolina area he is excited to head home to visit extended family and old friends.
“I’ll be going to see my in-laws and my nieces to hang out and have dinner,” Covey said.
While spending time with family is high on his list, Covey's also looking forward to escaping the frigid cold and enjoying the warm Phoenix weather.
This weekend at Phoenix, temperatures are projected to reach a high of 95 degrees so the sunshine and clear skies are sure to make this homecoming memorable for him.
Another Hendrick Morotsports jackman is headed home this weekend.
John Gianninoto, jackman on the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team, hails from Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is located about 140 miles away from Phoenix International Raceway.
Similar to Covey, Gianninoto also played college football before joining Hendrick Motorsports.
After graduating from Catalina Foothills High School in Arizona, Gianninoto signed as an offensive lineman for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He served as captain of his team in 2010. Then, in 2012, Gianninoto participated in the Carolina Panthers training camp in hopes of playing professional football.
Following the camp, Gianninoto became interested in NASCAR when one of his college roommates connected him with a coach at Hendrick Motorsports and encouraged him try out for the pit crew. Gianninoto made the team and signed in September 2012.
Traveling west has Gianninoto thrilled to return to the track in Phoenix near his hometown of Tucson and is eager to show everyone what it takes to be a jackman in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“It’s absolutely awesome,” Gianninoto said. “I have some friends and family coming this weekend so I am really excited to get out there and perform in front of them.”
Heading into Sunday's race at Phoniex, Gianninoto's optimism is high and believes the No. 24 team will find themselves in victory lane sooner or later.
“The momentum is pushing really hard forward,” Gianninoto voiced. “We have been put in position a few times and we are ready to go.”