CONCORD, NC (WFXR) — To understand how Dax Hollifield ended up as a member of a pit team in Concord, North Carolina, you have to go back to his time as a Hokie in Blacksburg. The Virginia Tech linebacker had dreams of making the NFL, earning an invite to rookie mini-camp by the Jaguars before Jacksonville cut him in early May.
“I’m sitting at home trying to contemplate if I’m going to keep playing football or not because you know there’s so much that goes into that,” said Hollifield.
That’s when Hollifield earned an invite by a different scout, one from Hendrick Motorsports, home to elite NASCAR Cup Series drivers like Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott. As the door to the NFL closed shut, the NASCAR world provided a window of opportunity.
“They wanted me to come down and check out the facility and see if I can do the movements and things like that and they had me come to a mini-camp,” said Hollifield. “They tested my vertical, the whole shebang, the pro day stuff and things like that.”
The six-foot-one, 245-pound ex-football player turned out to be the perfect fit for a pit crew, with Hendrick Motorsports signing him on the spot.
“The first time I stepped into the building. I noticed that everybody looked like everybody played football. When I went to go watch practice, the movements are very very explosive,” Hollifield said. “Putting a tire on is like grabbing a dumbbell and doing a row or something like that. It’s very similar. It’s like combining weightlifting and football and being an athlete. So after the first practice for me, I was like, ‘yeah I can do this.'”
Right now, Hollifield works the pits in the lower tiers of NASCAR, including the truck series on Fridays and Xfinity races on Saturdays.
“It’s definitely like a third down at Lane Stadium when the car’s approaching,” Hollifield said. “Your heart is racing, you’re going to be holding your breath, it’s do-or-die at that moment you know.”
The ultimate goal eventually is to pit a car in the Cup series, where it’s always a race against time.
“On Cup right now, they want that done in about nine seconds,” Hollifield said. “A good time is below nine, sub nine. Definitely below ten. So it’s very fast.”
Hollifield says his time as a Hokie built him for this moment in NASCAR. After spending Saturdays in the fall at the line of scrimmage, he’s ready to be at the edge of the wall on pit road.
“I think I had a blast at Tech. If I had another shot at the league, I’d definitely strap up one more time,” Hollifield said. “But I’m content if I don’t get one. I’m in a good spot right now.”