Former outfielder teaches pit crew 'a whole new ballgame'
A former college baseball player has shifted gears into NASCAR as a strength and conditioning coach for Richard Childress Racing.
Climbing walls for the team is nothing new to Ray Wright. His game-saving catch as an outfielder helped LSU win the College World Series in 2002. The Tigers won by one run, thanks in large part to the two-run home run he took away that day.Now Wright trains other athletes who go over the wall. As the strength and conditioning coach at Richard Childress Racing, he trains the pit crew, which has trimmed a full second off its average pit stop time thanks in large part to Wright's demanding regimen. "It's kind of a whole new ballgame for them," said Wright, who knows the feeling. "We use traditional [weight] lifting in a new format. We use stopwatches. That weight room is kind of like a laboratory to me. We try different things and everything is monitored and written down." The subjects in Wright's lab don't come out looking like bulked-up superheroes, but rather like a well-oiled machine, one whose parts don't bog down when depended upon most. "The results I most want to see in them you can't see in a mirror," Wright said. "I want them breaking down mental barriers. You can really exploit weakness in the gym. When you see yourself succeed in ways you never thought you'd see yourself succeed, it pays off on the track. When you climb over that wall, you're going to say to yourself 'I've conquered something a lot harder than this.' "
• Sprint Cup team: No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet [driven by Kevin Harvick]
• Age: 29
• Job: Strength and conditioning coach