#Hendrick30th spotlight: Former Alabama linebacker trades crimson and white jerseys for firesuits
- Oct 18, 2014
- Team Hendrick
The final whistle had blown, signaling the end of the of the 2009 college football National Championship game between The University of Alabama and The University of Texas.
And we – the Alabama Crimson Tide football players—were now champions.
As the echoes of the whistle mixed with the roar of thousands of victorious Alabama fans throughout the historic Rose Bowl stadium, I looked toward the stands and saw my mom and dad. Immediately, I ran across the field, climbed up the stairs and wrapped them both in celebratory hugs, giving them my No. 48 helmet and gloves.
It’s not every day that you get to celebrate a victory like that with your teammates. Playing football for The University of Alabama – and being a part of three national championships – was my wildest dream and I was just enjoying every minute of wearing that crimson and white.
And for my small hometown of Moundville, Alabama, playing for one of the most celebrated college football teams in the nation was a big deal. The town spans about 3.9 square miles and houses one stoplight. Most folks that live there are native to the area – the majority of residents end up getting a job in a local hospital, steel mill or mechanic shop. You don’t see many people there leaving the comforts of their small-town southern lifestyle; they’re humble folks who would rather sip on sweet tea and watch NASCAR on a Sunday afternoon than trample all over a crowded city.
Imagine their reactions when I received the opportunity to pit race cars for Hendrick Motorsports.
I’ll just say this – they named a street after me.
My journey at Hendrick Motorsports thus far has been one of joy, excitement and plenty of hard work. If you work for this team, you have to be on your A-game constantly. There’s not any room for slack on your behalf because if you don’t perform how you should, there’s always somebody right behind you that can take your place.
In some ways, it reminds me of playing for Coach Saban. Every day, you push yourself to your limits – there’s blood, sweat and tears on this concrete at the pit pad just like there was on that grass in Tuscaloosa. But it pays off – I learned that as a walk-on at Alabama and am learning that now at Hendrick Motorsports. Every race day, we’re fighting for a win, a win that could take us to the championship.
For that reason, this weekend’s race at my hometown track – Talladega Superspeedway – will require every single member of the pit crews to be on our A-game, whether you’re changing tires, fueling the car or even holding the air gun rope. As the last race before the next elimination in the Chase field, our performance on pit road makes or breaks our chances to take home that Sprint Cup trophy at the end of the season. But I have confidence our team will rise to the occasion – I just can’t wait to hear the roar of the Talladega fans when the green flag drops on Sunday.