Stereotypes of NASCAR might not bring to mind physical preparation, but motor sports have joined in the training revolution over the past decade and NASCAR is leading the way. On this week’s episode Michael Lepp of Joe Gibbs Racing joins us to talk about the role of strength and conditioning in motor sports, the mental side of preparation, and more.
Notes and quotes
Lepp comes from an endurance background and came to the world of motor sports more than a decade ago. For that whole time he has worked with Joe Gibbs Racing, one of the most successful teams in NASCAR. During his tenure the team has won 113 wins in the Cup and XFINITY series. He was part of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship with the No. 18 team in 2015, as well as four other championships in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He also won two pit crew championships during his tenure at JGR. Currently his role is Senior Athletic Advisor.
In the interview he explains how he got into NASCAR, how physical preparation has changed over that time, what they do for training, and the mental side of training for such a high-pressure sport.
Athletic development in motor sports
- 5:30 – How Lepp got into NASCAR.
- 8:00 – How human performance became important in NASCAR.
- 10:30 – The importance of the pit stop.
- 13:15 – The athletic demands of motor sports.
- 16:00 – How long does it take to become good on the pit crew.
- 17:00 – Marginal gains and building a foundation. “No matter where it is in the organization, the foundation is good people. ” “You can have better equipment, but the people still have to know how to use it. “
Mental performance and dealing with pressure
- 20:45 – Dealing with pressure and driver/pit crew tension. “I’ve never dealt with a sport with more pressure: no one knows their name when we win, but your name gets known when you mess up. “
- 23:15 – The impact of the mental side. “The mental side of what we do is crucial; if I have guys with drops in performance I can tie it back to the pressure component more often than physical abilities. “
- 25:45 – Data and mindset. “This is the data era, but our physical tests were not the most accurate at predicting success. ” “I came in wanting to use data to find athletes, but it turned out not to be the most important thing. “
- 29:45 – The value of experience in performance. “Nothing prepares you for competition more than competing. “
Training specifics and related topics
- 31:30 – Training in an environment where you are competitors and teammates.
- 34:45 – Detailing a week of training.
- 38:15 – Fitness for drivers.
- 43:00 – Learning a feel for the road.
- 50:00 – What a typical gym sessions contains.
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The following links were referenced in the podcast or provide some additional reading material on the topic:
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- You can follow Lepp on Twitter (@michael_lepp) or Instagram (@mlepp).
- You can learn more about Joe Gibbs Racing on their website.
- Lepp’s approach has been covered by various media outlets, including SC Now, NASCAR, and Sports Illustrated.