Optimizing the Physical Conditioning of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pit Crew Athlete

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Abstract

Ferguson, DP, Davis, AM, and Lightfoot, JT. Optimizing the physical conditioning of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pit Crew athlete. J Strength Cond Res 29(3): 567–577, 2015—Stock car racing is the largest spectator sport in the United States. As a result, National Association for Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) Sprint Cup teams have begun to invest in strength and conditioning programs for their pit crew athletes. However, there is limited knowledge regarding the physical characteristics of elite NASCAR pit crew athletes, how the NASCAR Sprint Cup season affects basic physiological parameters such as body composition, and what is the most appropriate physical training program that meets the needs of a pit crew athlete. We conducted 3 experiments involving Sprint Cup motorsport athletes to determine predictors of success at the elite level, seasonal physiological changes, and appropriate physical training programs. Our results showed that hamstring flexibility (p = 0.015) and the score on the 2-tire front run test (p = 0.012) were significant predictors of NASCAR Sprint Cup Pit Crew athlete performance. Additionally, during the off season, pit crew athletes lost lean body mass, which did not return until the middle of the season. Therefore, a strength and conditioning program was developed to optimize pit crew athlete performance throughout the season. Implementation of this strength and conditioning program in 1 NASCAR Sprint Cup team demonstrated that pit crew athletes were able to prevent lean body mass loss and have increased muscle power output from the start of the season to the end of the season.

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