CONCORD, N.C. – When it comes to the No. 48 team for Hendrick Motorsports, there have been three constants.
Driver Jimmie Johnson. Crew chief Chad Knaus. And car chief Ron Malec.
The three men have been together through all seven of the team’s NASCAR Cup Series championships.
“Ron’s been a core member of the 48 team for years and years, obviously,” Knaus said. “His influence and his professionalism and the way that he conducts himself and conducts his team has been a big part of the success of this team, and honestly all of Hendrick Motorsports.”
On Tuesday, Malec’s contributions were recognized when Mechanix Wear announced that he will be the 2017 recipient of the Brian Lunniss Lifetime Achievement Award.
The award is given to mechanics in motor sports who demonstrate remarkable achievements during their career. The inaugural award in 2016 was given to Lunniss himself, making Malec the first person to take home the honor other than the award’s namesake.
Malec has been the car chief for the No. 48 team since 2003, and his relationship with Johnson started long before that.
“Ron just genuinely loves working on stuff,” Johnson said. “Literally since I’ve been racing a full-time schedule on the asphalt, Ron has been my head wrench, if you will, on my race cars.”
As for Malec, he was quick to spread the credit to all of his teammates at Hendrick Motorsports.
“I really feel fortunate to be able to be part of such a successful organization and successful team and to be able to be recognized for all of our hard work,” Malec said. “Everyone here at the shop that works hard, I kind of represent them, I feel. Their success throughout the years just makes me feel like I’m accepted as a part of all those wins and championships that we’ve won as a team.”
Knaus said that Malec “means a lot” to not only him, but the entire organization.
And Johnson noted that there’s no one worthier of the recognition.
“So well-deserving,” he said.