Former WPDE All-Zoner on Jeff Gordon's pit crew
Mon, 09 May 2011 21:46:26 GMT —
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Throughout the years, WPDE Sports has looked back at former WPDE All-Zoners who have gone on to play in the NFL and major college football. There are other All-Zone alumni who have excelled in different sports beyond the gridiron. In 2002, Socastee High's first ever WPDE All-Zoner was Bailey Walker The offensive lineman went on to play college football at Gardner-Webb, but his future sport would eventually become auto racing:
"When I moved up to Gardner-Webb, I had a couple of buddies who had some internships with Hendrick Motorsports," Walker said prior to Saturday night's Southern 500 at Darlington. "I really didn't know too much about cars. I was timid, but I guess my athletic ability helped out"
Like any prospect in pro sports, Walker worked his way through the ranks of NASCAR. He made his Cup debut in the 2010 working for Bill Elliott in the 2010 Daytona 500. Hendrick Motorsports loaned him out to some smaller Cup teams to allow his to get experience. He also worked with Danica Patrick's car in the Nationwide Series. From the ARCA and Truck Series to the Nationwide Series, Bailey got the call up to the big time - joining Jeff Gordon's Sprint Cup Crew at the start of the 2011 season:
"It's really fun," Walker said. "We have coaches and we watch film every week just like football. It's great to finally be part of a competitive team week in and week out."
Walker is the #24's jackman. He's the first one over the wall as he lifts the Chevrolet to set up a change of tires Bailey quickly gets to the left side to perform the same action and to get Gordon back on the road - he's part of the modern NASCAR that has an emphasis on athletes on a pit crew and his football background has helped.
"It's more of technique and finesse thing I would say," Bailey said. "There's a little bit of strength that goes into it, but those jacks are hydraulic and they do a lot of the work. It's kind of like playing O-line. Everybody has to work together to make a good play."
Walker worked the Nationwide Race for the #88 of Aric Amirola and Saturday's Southern 500 for Gordon - he hopes to lift the future Hall of Famer to another Cup championship.
"I think we have a great chance to win a championship here and it's fun to be on that level."