CONCORD, N.C. – Last week, Hendrick Motorsports hosted its annual pit crew combine in hopes of adding fresh new talent to its roster for the 2024 season. 

The combine serves as a way for college athletes, who had a chance at making it professionally in their respective sport, to still use their athletic abilities in a different capacity. The background of pit crew members at Hendrick Motorsports ranges mostly from football to wrestling, as well as various sports played at the top collegiate level. 

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As the pit development coach, Keith Flynn does the bulk of the recruiting for the organization’s pit department. The process comes from building and maintaining relationships with colleagues and universities across the nation. During the NASCAR season, Flynn visits various schools while on the road with other pit coaches, looking for potential athletes.  

"The trait that sticks out the most and what I ask for is, the ability to perform when the pressure is the highest," Flynn said. "Those that want to be in the game when the pressure is on the most. Those are the athletes that I look for first. Most of the coaches now know what we do and how it works. The fit factor is probably more important than specific performance tools to measure their athletic performance. We want them to be great teammates and we look for athletes that used to be captains – that sticks out to us."

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First held in 2012, the Hendrick Motorsports pit crew combine was previously held at three different locations before the organization’s home base in Concord, North Carolina, became the host for the recruiting event.  

Twenty-five participants joined the organization’s pit department for the initial 2023 minicamp. Participants went through a series of strength and agility drills to test how quickly they can move their feet, their ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental activity, how well they can work together and how well they listen to instruction. Coaches do not expect prospects to immediately be able to change a tire in seconds or even understand the choreography of a pit stop. Rather, the coaching staff looks to identify athletic talent that can be coached into a successful member of the pit crew. At the end of the event, cuts are made, and coaches determine which prospects will be invited back to campus for a second minicamp. 

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"The sport now, with it being one lug nut, the athletic ability is even more paramount than it (previously) was honestly," head pit coach Jon Carvin said. "That twitchiness, that suddenness and the ability for someone to go from one place to another right now is going to really pay dividends as we keep getting better at this pit stop."

A second minicamp is scheduled for August, where the selected prospects will continue to take part in the recruitment process. This three-day session will include, among other activities, completing pit stops in real time. From there, decisions will be made as to which participants will be hired for the upcoming season.