In 2019, Kevin Meendering returns to Hendrick Motorsports to step into the role of crew chief for the No. 48 team and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. Most recently, Meendering served as a crew chief at JR Motorsports, where he accumulated three wins, two poles, 39 top-five finishes, 77 top-10s from 2016-18.
Meendering’s passion for motor sports began at an early age when he attended late model races on local short tracks around his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Meendering has fond memories of venues like Berlin Raceway, where his father and uncle built and worked on late models. As an 8-year-old, he and his family relocated to North Carolina, and although the move was coincidental, it did put Meendering in the heart of the NASCAR industry, thus fostering his love of racing even more.
His first exposure to the Hendrick Motorsports organization came in the form of a high school internship. His older brother Jeff worked in the organization’s chassis department and the younger Meendering was given the opportunity to clean parts and do odd jobs around the shop. He would go on to spend the next 16 years within the organization. After high school graduation, Meendering became a part-time employee and began to learn many trade skills, including fabrication and car mechanics, sparking his interest in engineering. Simultaneously, he pursued a mechanical engineering degree from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Completing his degree while working full-time at Hendrick Motorsports, he graduated in 2008 and immediately became the assistant engineer on NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team under the direction of former crew chief Steve Letarte. Working with Letarte and Gordon paid dividends, and in 2011 he took over as the lead engineer for the No. 88 team with driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. In Meendering’s five-season tenure with the No. 88 team, working with Letarte and later current crew chief Greg Ives, he helped generate eight wins – including the 2014 Daytona 500 – four pole positions – including a Daytona 500 pole – 52 top-five finishes and 96 top-10s.
In late 2015, Earnhardt saw so much talent in Meendering that he offered him the opportunity to become a crew chief at JR Motorsports for veteran driver Elliott Sadler. Sadler was a contender in the playoffs in all three seasons the duo spent together, capturing the 2017 regular-season title and finishing second in points in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons and fifth in 2018.
In late 2018, Meendering’s talent again caught the eye of Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, who asked Meendering to come back into the fold and become the crew chief for Johnson and the No. 48 team for the 2019 season.
When Meendering isn’t at the racetrack, he spends time with his wife and their two children, Colin and Isabella. He enjoys University of Michigan football along with all other sports at the collegiate and professional levels.