CONCORD, N.C. – Each Wednesday, a new edition of #MorningsWith airs live on the Hendrick Motorsports Twitter account, introducing fans to teammates all across the organization’s Concord, North Carolina, campus.
This week, we got to know pit crew coach Chris Burkey.
Prior to joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2009, Burkey coached college football and spent four years as a coaching assistant and scout with the Miami Dolphins.
Though entirely different sports, Burkey sees a lot of parallels between the NFL and NASCAR’s recruiting processes.
“You’re trying to look at the body types, same as you would in the NFL,” Burkey explained. “We’ve come up with a good rule of thumb here as far as what we look for body types and positions. It’s the same thing you try to do in the NFL.”
Burkey looks for athletes with a variety of different athletic backgrounds – recruiting football, baseball, hockey and even wrestling athletes.
One of his main roles is to keep each pit crew member engaged and focused throughout the course of a race, making sure they are prepared for any situation where a fraction of a second can make all the difference.
“I think that’s what coaching is,” Burkey said. “You look for the finer details and work through those things and it becomes just natural for the athlete.”
Burkey enjoys seeing athletes complete the path from joining as a recruit to learning an entirely new sport and ultimately succeeding on race days.
“It’s very gratifying to see them come from something that they never even knew about,” Burkey said. “A wide receiver at a certain school never thought he’d be a tire changer in NASCAR. And (to) see them flourish and learn something completely new and then flourish on pit road, it’s really exciting.”
Hear more about Burkey’s experiences and roles as a pit crew coach in the full edition of #MorningsWith below.