Hendrick Motorsports innovates amidst an evolving sport
Hendrick Motorsports first made their way into the tight-knit NASCAR society in the 1980s, earning a record 12 championships in NASCAR’s premier division. Throughout Hendrick Motorsports’ illustrious history, the team has been consistently recognized for its innovations in the sport.
This year, Hendrick Motorsports is looking to finish the NASCAR Cup Series strong with the support of real-time strategic insights they’ve adopted through Microsoft technologies.
Rising to rapidly changing challenges
Finding success in NASCAR means being able to quickly adapt to the sport’s changing rules and ecosystem. At the end of the 2017 season, in an attempt to create parity between larger and smaller teams, NASCAR decided to open up access to different data streams from each car at every race. The data paired GPS location with valuable telemetry information such as speed, brake level, and throttle position. As a result, teams could now see precise details about every car at virtually any location on the track. With so much new data suddenly at their fingertips, Hendrick needed a solution for generating actionable insights.
We needed to be able to analyze the data quickly and use the information to make better decisions in order to win races.Keith Rodden, TOC Project Manager, Hendrick Motorsports
Tailored solutions for multiple needs
To take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the data, Hendrick needed a solution that could translate it into information they could actually use. The team worked with Microsoft and gskinner to develop a custom Lap Analyzer tool, allowing team engineers to compare a given car’s data streams at different points on a track to understand how a driver’s actions affect lap time—all in real-time. For instance, during any given race, the team could now determine the ideal point on a turn to pull off the throttle and engage the brakes, or identify the most efficient line around the curve.
With so many valuable insights, Hendrick also needed a solution to share it securely and effectively across the team’s various stakeholders. Microsoft Teams was able to meet these needs, offering an efficient communication and collaboration system in one place that provides enterprise-grade end-to-end security, ensuring that Hendrick Motorsports’ data, insights, and strategies are protected—essential in an industry where one second can mean the difference between first and fifth place.
We have to rely heavily on communication between the track and the race shop back in North Carolina.Jimmie Johnson, No. 48, Hendrick Motorsports
Beyond engineers and pit crew members who play a key role behind-the-scenes, Hendrick Motorsports drivers began using Teams to prep for races and pour over valuable data. Jimmie Johnson, driver for the No. 48 car, describes his experience: “I am in the garage stall, from there I can go into the Teams channel and communicate with the dedicated person back at the race shop and within a handful of seconds I can ask the question, get my response and apply that right away."
Zac Brown, race engineer for the No. 24 Car, is challenged with making strategic real-time race decisions while not having access to the car, crew chief, engineers or the driver in person. Quick, clear, effective communication is of the upmost importance for Brown who spends his race days based in the Charlotte Team Operations Center.
Things happen fast at Hendrick Motorsports. Learn how the team communicates and makes real-time decisions.
As NASCAR continues to evolve, Hendrick Motorsports has its sights set on innovative custom solutions that help them adapt in an ever-changing sport.