CONCORD, N.C. – There’s more to being a pit crew member than what is seen on the racetrack or at the organization’s pit pad. There’s endless physical and mental preparation as well as the fundamentals required to pit a race car.
In the second episode of "Refueled presented by AdvoCare," it is time to hit the gym with the jackmen and fuelers. Fans can get an up-close look at the work that those positions put in to train to be able to lift a stock car several times (the Next Gen car weighs approximately 3,485 lbs.) or several fuel cans (average weight of 95 lbs) over the course of a race.
Check out the teaser for this episode here and check out the full episode below.
"What keeps you motivated is you have to have a short-term memory," said John Gianninoto, the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning fueler for the No. 9 team. "If you have a bad race, the good thing about our season and our schedule is you have 35 more chances. So, it’s rapid fire. You clear your mind and then you go back to work. Go to the basics and fundamentals and make sure you get back in the gym, so next time you have a chance you go in and you attack it."
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The basics begin with nutrition as well as the efforts with strength and agility training that these athletes put in. Pit crew members work all the same muscles as any other sport but take more caution to certain areas such as the lower back. Workouts vary depending on each position of the pit roster to allow the athlete to work efficiently and more quickly around the car.
With 29 different circuits on the schedule (although pit crews are not utilized at the Clash in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum or the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race), fuelers and jackmen prepare with certain races in mind that are make or break with their position. Fuelers target lower back strength and core work in order to get to and from the wall, as well as rotational-type movements when switching fuel cans.
With a jackman’s position involving lifting the car, hanging tires and moving swiftly across the box, there are many muscle groups for those in that position to focus on. As a result, these athletes focus on the entire body, starting with upper body strength to foot work and explosion-type exercises.
"The number one thing that drives our guys is competition itself," pit development manager Evan Kureczka said. "Jackmen and fuelers definitely have a very vigorous job. A lot of what we require of them is moving heavy weight."
In March, Hendrick Motorsports debuted a new series, "Refueled presented by Advocare." The series shows a behind-the-scenes look at the dedication and discipline of the organization’s pit crew athletes and staff. The debut episode examined the team’s preseason work leading into the 2023 DAYTONA 500.
The production follows a member from each of the four teams. Get to know the featured pit crew members, who cover a variety of different positions on pit road and have a wide range of experiences in the sport.
Anderson is the front-tire changer on the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Hard work and determination to be the best on and off pit road is what Anderson brings to the table after joining the No. 5 team in the middle of the 2022 season. He joined Hendrick Motorsports in 2019 as a backup crew member.
In his years on pit road, Gianninoto converted from a jackman to the now fueler on the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet. The veteran is in his 11th season and was part of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series championship-winning pit crew with driver Chase Elliott. He also serves as an asset to help upcoming jackmen and the coaching staff, assisting in the pit crew recruitment process.
Patton is the tire carrier on the No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet and is now in his 11th season. Prior to being on the No. 24 pit crew, he worked on the Nos. 48 and 88. His leadership throughout the department is highlighted not only through his words of encouragement to fellow members but through his actions to be a helping hand in any given situation.
Holman joined the No. 48 Ally Racing pit crew ahead of the 2022 playoffs. The 2023 campaign marks the first starting year for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, native with the team. His drive and resoluteness to be the best on pit road carries through in his approach.