CONCORD, N.C. – This week, the NASCAR Cup Series heads west to begin a three-week stretch commonly known as the “West Coast swing.”
Races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, ISM Raceway and Auto Club Speedway back-to-back-to-back create a unique set of challenges with Hendrick Motorsports’ campus across the country in North Carolina.
“The preparation and planning for that is very in-depth with haulers and race cars kind of passing each other going cross-country,” vice president of competition Jeff Andrews said.
Just as preparation for the Daytona 500 begins months in advance, the race shops are working through the logistics of the West Coast swing long before the haulers are set to hit the road.
In order to get all of the race cars – primaries and backups for three races – out to the tracks, it takes extra haulers, extra equipment and extra manpower.
And it all has to happen in a condensed window.
“It certainly hits at a very unique time of year because you’ve been in Daytona back and forth for the better part of 10 days, which is a certain build of a race car, and then all of a sudden you’re kind of hit with three in a row that have challenges of trucks needing to leave out of here on Monday evening or no later than midday Tuesday versus what would be normally a Wednesday night or Thursday morning,” Andrews explained. “So, you’re essentially taking two days out of the work week for the guys working on race cars and engines and things, and you’re stacking those up, oh, by the way, with three in a row.”
Andrews noted the “tremendous amount behind the scenes” that goes into executing the three-week stretch without a hitch.
And it’s a big task for the hauler drivers themselves.
“The West Coast swing is unique in its own way, first and foremost because of the distance,” said Mark Ellis, No. 24 team hauler driver. “I think our first leg out to Las Vegas is going to be close to 2,200 miles.”
Ultimately, the three-week stretch of the schedule creates for a meticulously planned, as Andrews put it, “choreographed back-and-forth of race cars and equipment as well as team members.”
Stay tuned to HendrickMotorsports.com for more on how it all comes to fruition throughout the next three weeks.