CONCORD, N.C. – The Pit Crew Challenge presented by Mechanix Wear was a highly anticipated aspect of NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro Speedway’s for the 2023 All-Star Race weekend.
In the third episode of "Refueled presented by AdvoCare," Hendrick Motorsports takes you behind-the-scenes. Get an inside look into the preparation and competitiveness of its pit road athletes ahead of an event that showcases their talent and abilities.
PHOTOS: Scenes from the Pit Crew Challenge at North Wilkesboro
"Pressure is a privilege," No. 5 front-tire changer Blaine Anderson said. "I learned that from Coach (Nick) Saban, from spending my time at Alabama. You have an opportunity to prove yourself in what you do every day, for your job, and we’ve been doing it well."
You can watch the latest episode below and on Hendrick Motorsports’ digital platforms.
"It means a lot to have the entire team involved," No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels said. "All-Star Race formats in the past have had the element of the Pit Crew Competition and seeing that come back to the level that it is now is truly exciting because you have the driver getting in and out of the pit stall, you have the choreography of the pit crew which does include the road crew behind the wall and more contributions to that and of course the pit crew themselves showcasing their abilities. So, it is exciting for everyone involved and certainly for our team."
The pit crew competition not only offered a $100,000 prize for the fastest pit crew, but also determined the lineups for the All-Star Open and both heat races for the drivers already locked into the main event. This year’s format consisted of each pit crew competing in both the All-Star Race and All-Star Open performing a four-tire pit stop with no fuel. The timing lines were set as one box behind and one box ahead of the designated pit box.
RELATED: Recap the Pit Crew Challenge results for Hendrick Motorsports
The No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts pit crew of Chase Elliott posted the fastest time among the Hendrick Motorsports crews, completing a stop of 13.572 seconds, which was fourth-fastest in the competition. The No. 48 Ally Racing pit crew of fill-in driver Josh Berry placed fifth with a stop of 13.677 seconds. The No. 48 team’s performance set Berry up to start second for the 100-lap Open, and he won that event to make it into the All-Star Race.
When the 200-lap All-Star Race rolled around, Kyle Larson and the No. 5 HendrickCars.com team stole the show. Starting 16th, Daniels’ decision to pit under the first caution for four tires positioned his driver to move up through the field at a blistering pace. Larson led 145 laps en route to the victory and to claim the $1 million prize under the lights at North Wilkesboro.
In March, Hendrick Motorsports "Refueled," debuted." The series takes a 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.