CONCORD, N.C. -- Springing forward isn't just a time of year. It also happens, literally, when cars hit the tracks during NASCAR events.
Cal Stewart, the shock technician for Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, gave a glimpse into what it takes to make a race car spring properly.
"My primary focus is to make sure we have all necessary options (springs or shocks) prepared to make changes quickly and efficiently throughout practice," Stewart said. "We have such a small window of time with our two 50-minute practice sessions. That being said, it’s crucial to have all potential spring and shock changes prepared ahead of time so it’s quick change for the guys."
Stewart said he got into the business like many do -- through kart racing. That prepared him to meet with Hendrick Motorsports, where he literally knocked on doors to earn his position right after he graduated from Northern Illinois University.
"Fortunately enough, the contacts that I made in my previous karting years helped me get in front of the right people and I was able to secure a spot over here at Hendrick Motorsports," Stewart said.
That spot Stewart occupies is vital to Johnson's performance in his vehicle. Stewart makes sure that the springs and shocks are of the highest caliber and properly secured so the tires remain in constant contact with the track.
The springs and shocks also are instrumental in ensuring the tires can handle the force that comes with braking, accelerating and cornering.
He added that while the job is an incredible opportunity, there is one aspect of working for Hendrick Motorsports that he loves above all else.
"The people. Hands down. I have made a lot of great friends throughout my time here," Stewart said. "We all share the same passion for motor sports, we have a great group of leaders and we all want to win."
When Stewart isn't on the track with the No. 48 team, he said he loves mountain biking and heading back to the kart track with friends.
"I really enjoy going out to the track with a group of guys and just driving for a day," he said. "Always brings back a lot of memories and helps remind me why I got involved in this sport to begin with."
With live racing scheduled to begin again on May 9 at Martinsville Speedway, Stewart said that's the springtime event that has him excited.
"Hendrick Motorsports as a whole has shown a lot of speed at the beginning of this season, so that has been really encouraging," he said. "I am motivated and excited to get back to the track where we can continue to build on what has been a great start to Jimmie (Johnson's) final full time year."