HPU’s Edwards enjoys fast times with Richard Childress Racing
Growing up in Baltimore, NASCAR was about as foreign to High Point University basketball guard Derrell Edwards as living in the South Pacific would be to an Eskimo.
“I had no connection with anything like that other than maybe bumper cars at the carnival,” Edwards said.
All that changed last year when the basketball team was given a tour of the Richard Childress Racing shops in Welcome thanks to Richard Payne, who is the team chaplin for RCR and a member of the Panther Club.
Edwards found out there was much more to the sport than a bunch of people going fast and turning left.
He was intrigued so much by the teamwork needed. He kept in touch with Payne, who liked the leadership skills Edwards showed while helping run the team last season.
So Payne he arranged for Edwards to work for RCR this season.
“It was more about seeing leadership aspects of running the floor and a game not being just about the guy putting the ball in the basket,” Edwards said.
He worked from 8 a,m.-1 p.m. five days a week and then went to class in the afternoons.
Edwards worked in the shop, got to meet team owner Richard Childress and driver Kevin Harvick, and also took part in all aspects of being a pit crew member. He participated in pit stop practices, which included getting tires ready by brushing dirt from the rubber surface and gluing lug nuts to wheels. He also got to drive a car into the pit stall during a practice, change tires and put gas in the cars using large refueling cans.
“It looks a lot easier when you watch it on television,” Edwards said. “I had fun doing it. When you see professional guys on that level, on a Cup car, and how they carry on, it was good.
“There is a lot of people out there working just as hard as we do at basketball. Relating to what we do in basketball. It was just interesting to see if a guy messed up on a pit stop, not getting one of the lug nut on, how he responded to it and dealt with adversity.”
Edwards was satisfied with how he did during the pit stops.
“For a guy who had never done that, trying to put an 80-pound can of fuel in a car, I think I did OK,” he said.
He did well enough to provide inspiration with the team as the Panthers get ready for the upcoming season, which opens on Nov. 8.
“There’s a YouTube video of him,” said Dejuan McGaughy, Evans’ running mate at guard. “He got good at it because he practiced and practiced and practiced and he could get perfect at it if had practiced, practiced and practiced. And that’s why it relates to basketball because you see that practice makes perfect.”