CONCORD, N.C. – The Hendrick Motorsports pit crew earned a victory in France on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which begins on Saturday, June 10.
In the Pit Stop Challenge, the Garage 56 pit crew topped 16 squads in the GTE class (where the team was classified for this event). They performed a NASCAR-style pit stop in 10.364 seconds and were the only team to use a manual jack. In the overall competition, the team placed fifth, just 0.3 seconds behind the top team.
Video courtesy of NASCAR's YouTube page.
"It was actually our fastest stop of the day, so I would say I was surprised, but also very pleased," Hendrick Motorsports Pit Crew Coach Evan Kureczka said in a release from NASCAR. "You can tell the fans were very impressed with the fact that we were using a jack to jack the car up. You could see the smiles on their faces, we put on a great show for the fans."
The Hendrick Motorsports Garage 56 pit crew includes Dawson Backus (front-tire changer), Cody French (front-tire carrier), Jarius Morehead (rear-tire carrier), Mike Moss (rear-tire changer) and Donovan Williams (jackman).
"This is a special moment to be able to represent Hendrick Motorsports, represent our families, America and NASCAR as a whole," Williams said in a NASCAR release. "We just relied on our training and it came into place instinctively. I think we all just went out there and performed and didn’t think too much."
The No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 logged its first laps around the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe on Sunday, June 4. The team will next be on track on Wednesday, June 7, from 8-11 a.m. ET with a practice session. Qualifying will take place later that day from 1-2 p.m. ET with another practice session to follow from 4-6 p.m. ET.
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The Garage 56 entry in the endurance race is a unique case because it is a single-entry class of competition for innovative cars. There is no other car in the class. Garage 56 was introduced in 2012 and allows for creativity without taking away a spot in the traditional starting grid. Hendrick Motorsports, in collaboration with NASCAR, Chevrolet, IMSA and Goodyear, is fielding the No. 24 entry.
The driver lineup is composed of a group of highly decorated racers. Formula One champion Jenson Button, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Johnson, two-time Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and backup driver/coach Jordan Taylor (a four-time IMSA champion) make up the roster. Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition and seven-time championship-winning crew chief Chad Knaus is overseeing the project with former Cup Series crew chief Greg Ives managing the race.
The car, a modified version of the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 race car, was formally unveiled at Daytona International Speedway in February. The systems and components of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 are mostly unchanged from the car that runs in the NASCAR Cup Series. However, this car will have headlights and taillights for nighttime racing, a larger fuel cell, carbon brake discs and Goodyear Eagle race tires that have been specially designed.