Concord, North Carolina – For Lisa Smokstad, back on the road at No. 17 HendrickCars.com takes the NASCAR Xfinity Series Chevrolet Camaro back to its early days at Hendrick Motorsports.
Flashbacks come when she spent time on the original #17 team with young Ricky Hendrick behind the wheel of the series now known as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“Getting into the garage for my first Xfinity race this year (at Darlington Racecourse), it was the same paint scheme,” Smokstad noted. “Even this brought back a million memories. I remembered doing the same things with Ricky (Hendrick) and Jack (Sprage).”
In 1999, she joined Hendrick Motorsports and worked with Jack Sprague’s entry number 24 in the truck series. Smokstad will go on to serve as a tire specialist for both the Sprague team and the newly formed 17th team. Hendrik led part-time driving in 2000 before going full-time in 2001. At Kansas Speedway, Hendrik led No. 17 to the victory lane for his only Truck Series win in 2001. This win made Charlotte, North Carolina the youngest winner in series history at the time.
Smokstad is part of the 17th Xfinity Series road crew made up mostly of veteran Hendrick Motorsports personnel. In June, the organization announced that it would introduce the No. 17 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro to Three races this season In an effort to make NASCAR Cup Series drivers more sitting time on road courses.
When Kyle Larson Make the season debut For Team #17 (and the organization’s first Xfinity in 13 years) at Road America over the 4th of July weekend, Smokstad was in the same role as the original #17 team. Even with all the changes, she has enjoyed reminiscing about her time in the Truck Series.
“It was fun to get everyone on the track, but it was a little tricky,” Smokstad said. “Honestly, I was surprised by all the memories I rushed into. It wasn’t that I forgot anything that happened, but it was fun to remember everything about it.”
From 1999 to 2009, Smokstad was a member of the roving crew. Her work on the road paid championship dividends for the organization as she was part of the crews that won titles at all three national series: the Camping World Truck Series in 1999 and 2001 with Sprague, the Xfinity Series in 2003 with Brian Vickers and spent part of the season on the crew for one of five titles. Consecutive NASCAR Cup Series by Jimmy Johnson. In 2007, her life took a new role when she welcomed her daughter, Rila, into the world.
When Smokstad is on the road with Team Xfinity #17, her job is to make sure all four Goodyear Eagles are running properly. From checking air pressures to collecting data after a run, the job provides important metrics that crew chiefs use to match the vehicle’s balance to the preferences of the driver behind the wheel.
When you’re in the shop, Smokstad oversees all the tires and wheels at Hendrick Motorsports. This includes compiling post-race reports depicting tire performance and assisting existing tire specialists on all teams. In the event that a tire specialist is unable to attend the race, she will travel as an alternative. Over the years, Smokstad has worked with all four racing teams.
This season, Smokstad also worked as a road crew mechanic for the #88 JR Motorsports part-time entry in the Xfinity Series. I’ve traveled with the team at the races that Hendrick Motorsports driver was driving.
Working on the Xfinity side of things was an adjustment given the difference in tires as most of its work is done on the Cup series side of things. The Xfinity series still uses the traditional 15-inch wheels with five nuts, while the Cup series uses an 18-inch wheel with a single nut design.
“I had to reset.” Smokstad said. “There’s a lot to check but it was kind of exciting; I felt like it kept on my toes for a bit. I need that check up every now and then.”
This weekend, the #17 Chevrolet Camaro of the Xfinity Series is back in action with Alex Bowman behind the wheel on the road track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Smokstad and the crew will be looking to put Bowman to capture Hendrik Motorsports’ 27th win in the series and the organization’s first since 2009. Catch all the action on Saturday, July 30, at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). ).