CONCORD, N.C. – Pit crew athletes face numerous tests and tough situations during the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. Those are not just limited to what happens over the wall, but also in the elements. Intense heat conditions encountered during the race weekend requires training in itself for these Hendrick Motorsports athletes.
In the fifth episode of "Refueled presented by AdvoCare," viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the approximately 15-week heat training program that Hendrick Motorsports pit crew athletes undergo to prepare for the summer months. The full episode is available now on Hendrick Motorsports’ YouTube channel, social platforms and can be watched below.
The majority of these athletes come from various sports backgrounds and the Hendrick Motorsports pit department shapes heat training similar to that of a football "training camp." In football, athletes prepare for the season to begin in the summer, but it ends when temperatures drop. Over the course of the 38-week Cup Series season, these athletes face extreme temperatures in the summer months, bookended by cooler climates at the start and end of the schedule.
"Heat training is a progression that we do with our athletes that is about 12-15 weeks throughout the summer months," explained strength and conditioning coach Nick Stegman. "A lot of the times its quick tempo or footwork, out in the elements, in the heat and humidity. It gets them acclimated to all of that and a lot of times this will transfer to their pit stops, especially in the hot summer months going into Atlanta (Motor Speedway) or Texas (Motor Speedway) later on in the year. Those hot summer months where the ambient temperature is between 90-95 degrees but sometimes the track temperature is up north of 100 degrees and they’re in fire suits for six, seven or even eight hours a day."
Fire suits protect crew members from danger that may occur in a race. With that protection, brings extra layers. As track temperatures climb, the body temperature does as well.
"Their fire suits have multiple layers on them to protect them just in case of any issues, so it’s just adding to their body heat and it’s going to feel very uncomfortable," said assistant coach Jacob Claborn. "I think the most important part of heat training is getting these guys to a state where they can work through being uncomfortably and thrive in a situation and thrive mentally and physically in that state."
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In March, Hendrick Motorsports’ "Refueled presented by AdvoCare," debuted. The series looks at the dedication and discipline of the organization’s pit crew athletes and staff. Catch up on the previous episodes below.
Episode 4: Inside the annual pit crew combine at Hendrick Motorsports
Episode 3: Behind-the-scenes of the Pit Crew Challenge
Episode 2: In the gym with the pit crew of Hendrick Motorsports
Episode 1: Everything You Got: Hendrick Motorsports prepares for 2023 season
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.