CONCORD, N.C. – How is a pit crew like a boy band? Let’s let No. 24 fueler Landon Walker explain.
"We all have a different sound, a different voice and the cumulative effect of that is a good harmony," Walker explains. "We all have positions and we all try to make it work together. It doesn’t always go perfect but we have faith and trust in each other, which goes a long way in this sport."
The 10th and final episode of “On the Road,” presented by Valvoline, sits down with all five members of the No. 24 RaptorTough.com pit crew as they detail how they prepare for a race weekend, the impact pit road performance has on a race and share some of their favorite moments from the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. The full episode is now available on Hendrick Motorsports’ YouTube channel and digital platforms. It can also be viewed below.
The No. 24 RaptorTough.com pit crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Walker (fueler).
"We have a great group on the 24," crew chief Rudy Fugle said. "Most of them have been here all three years I’ve been here. We have a mix of fairly young guys, some veterans and some guys that have been around Hendrick (Motorsports) for a long time. We just have a great camaraderie with the team. It’s hard to get that mesh and we have that on the 24 because the people are really good."
The No. 24 pit crew posted the fastest average four-tire stop time this season at 10.934 seconds. Their impact on a race was noticeable nearly every weekend from the execution of two-tire stops that set driver William Byron up for wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.
Flawless execution that helped put their driver in the lead off of pit road or gain numerous spots to secure a top-five or top-10 finish. Byron and the No. 24 team led the series in wins (six), stage wins (nine), top-10 finishes (21), average finish (10.97) and tied with teammate Kyle Larson for the most top-fives (15).
SEASON RECAPS: Alex Bowman | Chase Elliott | William Byron | Kyle Larson
"Anytime that we can have a positive impact on the race – gain spots, put him on the front row and put him in a position to win – it is something that you hang your hat on," Cordero said.
Training is essential when it comes to how pit crews get ready for each race and the season as a whole. Today, teams put a huge emphasis on athletes on pit road. Almost all pit road competitors have some sort of collegiate athletic background, usually in football or wrestling.
"It’s a 40-week season so I would say we are all pretty conscious of the preparation you need to sustain yourself through that 40 weeks," Bishop said. "Being able to maintain the level of success we’ve had all year is one of the greatest accomplishments this team has. It is not easy to go all over the country every week and still perform your job at a high level."
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The No. 24 pit crew typically flies out to the race location on a Saturday to pit a car in the NASCAR Xfinity Series car. Those cars have five lug nuts on them, while the Cup Series Next Gen car has just one. On race day, each team member has a different set of responsibilities and works to get their equipment ready to go.
"In today’s world with the new car and everything is pretty equal, you win and lose on pit road," team owner Rick Hendrick said. "You got to have people that are fast and find guys that can do it under pressure. It is one thing to do it in practice. It is another to do it when it counts."
Among the No. 24 team’s six wins this year were the 100th win for the No. 24 Chevrolet in the Cup Series (at Darlington Raceway in May) and the organization’s 300th win in the Cup Series (at Texas Motor Speedway in September).
"Whether it’s our first win, second or sixth of the year, you never know when you are going to get another win," Ossowski said. "So you celebrate everyone like it is going to be your last."
"You put so much into it and you are happy for your team and happy for each other," Patton said. "It is good to see a lot of guys smile. It’s the old adage, nothing beats winning."
The 10-episode series offers an up-close look and follows a variety of team employees as they go about their jobs over a race weekend. The series will highlight the importance of those positions within the success of the team.
"When people look at Hendrick Motorsports, they see drivers and teams bringing home race wins, trophies and championships," team vice chairman Jeff Gordon says in the teaser for the series that you can watch here.
"Behind all that, the unsung heroes. The people back at the shop. The army of people on the road 38 weeks a year. Those people are what make us successful."
Catch up on past episodes below.
Episode 9: Lance Scott, No. 5 hauler driver
Episode 8: Adam Wall, No. 5 lead race engineer
Episode 7: Tyler Jones, No. 24 car chief
Episode 6: Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
Episode 5: Ashly Ennis, at-track public relations manager/No. 24 team PR rep
Episode 4: Rudy Fugle, No. 24 crew chief
Episode 3: Tyler Monn, No. 5 spotter
Episode 2: Lisa Smokstad, lead tire specialist
Episode 1: Brian Walsh, trackside network engineer