For the 2018 racing season, NASCAR imposed a new set of regulations on competitors, including limiting the number of team members allowed on the track during races. For legendary race team Hendrick Motorsports, this meant that many of the race-day crew would now need to perform their critical duties remotely from the team headquarters in Concord, North Carolina.
As Hendrick Motorsports grappled with how to adjust to the new regulations Matt Cochran, head of IT, and Alba Colon, leader of Competition Systems group, saw technology as the answer. That’s when they took the proverbial wheel and made Microsoft Teams the new hub for all race communications and decision-making.
Earlier this week, we joined members of the Hendrick Motorsports team in Concord, North Carolina, and at the track in Daytona, Florida, as they prepared for the exhibition race called the Clash, and for qualifying rounds for this weekend’s Daytona 500. And it was inspiring to see how they’re using Teams to connect the team across hundreds of miles.
As you saw from the video, now during competitions, Hendrick Motorsports race engineers, mechanical experts, and strategists take their positions in the Team Operations Center (TOC), a new state-of-the-art facility built to optimize race-day operations. The TOC enables the team to view the on-track action, quickly gather and analyze massive amounts of data, and communicate in real-time with the team at the track.
Teams was the digital hub for it all—in the TOC, in the garage, in the pit, and in the cars. Jimmie Johnson, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and winner of this weekend’s Daytona Clash race said, “The relationship we have with Microsoft and our use of Teams is to win, plain and simple. That’s what we’re here to do. Communication and speed are everything for us to make those instant decisions. We look forward to kicking butt with [Teams] this year.”
Engineers like Zac Brown, who supports Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron on the #24 car, relies on Teams to stay in constant contact with Byron, his crew chief, and pit crew at the track. He uses Teams to easily share large files and says that because Teams is integrated with the full Office 365 suite, it saves critical seconds otherwise lost in toggling between apps.
This weekend, stock car racing fans all over the country will tune in to watch the Daytona 500, an annual 500-mile long NASCAR Cup Series race known as the Super Bowl of the NASCAR race season. In qualifying heats, Hendrick Motorsports swept the top four spots at the starting line, and we wish them the best of luck in Sunday’s big race!