CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Meendering is stepping into a brand-new role in 2019, but it feels a bit like a homecoming for the new No. 48 team crew chief.
Meendering previously spent 16 years at Hendrick Motorsports – beginning with a high-school internship in the chassis department – holding roles including assistant engineer for the No. 24 team and lead engineer for the No. 88 team.
For the past three seasons, he has served as a NASCAR Xfinity Series crew chief for JR Motorsports, earning three wins, 39 top-five finishes, 77 top-10s and the 2017 regular season title with driver Elliott Sadler.
Now, he’s back at Hendrick Motorsports, and the transition has been a smooth one.
“Obviously, I’ve been here a long time,” Meendering said. “It’s been three years, but there are a lot of familiar faces. I’ve worked with all of the other crew chiefs, so, it’s been really smooth. There’s a lot going on, for sure, and a lot to get up to speed on, but it’s going good.”
As he settles into his new role, the crew chief noted that he and Jimmie Johnson have been in contact ever since the move was announced.
That included a test session at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which allowed the two to work together for a full day as they begin to formulate how they’ll collaborate in 2019.
“Jimmie is awesome to work with – he’s so down-to-earth, so easy to talk to,” Meendering said, noting that the two are learning how one another like to operate. “It’s more processes, meetings, how we want to communicate, how we want to set up debriefs, just little stuff like that, which is important for the success of our team.”
One key factor now that he’s in his new office is that the other three crew chiefs’ offices are right next door. That, he said, only increases collaboration and has eased the transition even further.
On the No. 48 team crew chief’s docket this offseason is to get the team personnel in order – “for the most part we’ve got the same group” – spend as much time with his driver as possible and wrap his head around the new rules coming in 2019.
“There’s a lot of stuff changing next year,” Meendering said. “I’m kind of coming in at a good point here because there’s a lot of development, a lot of work’s being done and I’m involved in that, so it’s a good time.”
One thing his offseason won’t include is a lot of vacation time.
“This is it,” he said, sitting at his desk. “Just basically putting my head down and going to work and trying to get this 48 back in Victory Lane. That’s the goal.”
Back with the organization where he spent 16 years of his career, Meendering feels right at home.
For him, the 2019 campaign can’t come soon enough.
“It’s a great environment,” he said, “and I’m just ready to get going.”