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NASCAR Garage 56 entry wins Le Mans GTE pit stop challenge

NASCAR’s Garage 56 entry in the Le Mans 24 Hours has been able to taste victory at the endurance classic after all.

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Garage 56 is the entry that the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) sets aside for the “technology of tomorrow and beyond” of innovative machinery.

NASCAR’s entry this year – a modified version of the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 race car – is a collaboration of NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet, IMSA, and Goodyear. It will run in the event this weekend but is basically in a class by itself and cannot win.

However, the entry’s Hendrick pit crew topped 16 competitors in the GTE class to win Tuesday’s Pit Stop Challenge despite being the only team competing with a manual jack. They were also fifth overall.

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Photo by: NASCAR Media

The five-person crew changed four Goodyear Eagle tires in 10.364 seconds, edging Northwest AMR by 0.12 seconds. They finished fifth overall, just 0.3 seconds behind the top finishing team.

“It was actually our fastest stop of the day, so I would say I was surprised, but also very pleased,” said Hendrick’s pit crew coach Evan Kureczka. “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.”

Even more impressive – it was the team’s first time working together in a competition setting.

“Over the past eight months we’ve put this team together and we’ve rolled with them the entire time and knew this is what we were going to bring to Le Mans, but we had to get them up to speed together,” Kureczka said.

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Photo by: NASCAR Media

The crew includes Dawson Backus (front tire changer), Mike Moss (rear tire changer), Donovan Williams (jackman), Cody French (front tire carrier) and Jarius Morehead (rear tire carrier). All five compete for HMS in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“This is a special moment to be able to represent Hendrick Motorsports, represent our families, America and NASCAR as a whole,” said Williams, the only jackman competing in the competition.

“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.

“That’s what’s special about sports – we all come from athletic backgrounds and were able to lean on that when you talk about canceling out the crowd, locking in and being in the moment.”

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Hendrick Motorsports team members

Photo by: NASCAR Media

The NASCAR Garage 56 entry will be driven by 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Mike Rockenfeller in this weekend’s 100th anniversary running of the world-famous endurance race.

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