Finding Success in NASCAR

N Our Voice By Graham Stoddard

As an athlete, you compete.

It's what you do.

Rain or shine, you wake up every single morning wanting to compete.

I spent my entire life focused on competing on the field. Football was the center of my world, and competition fueled every single thought, action, and decision. 

When I ended my career at the University of Nebraska, and graduated with a degree in finance,  I had a major decision to make. 

I could spend the rest of my professional career sitting in a cubicle giving financial advice, or I could revert back to the one thing that had always driven me.


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A specialized role


I've always been a competitor. Whether it was backyard football with my older brother or on the field at Memorial Stadium, one thing was for certain — I'd always give it my all. 

As a young man growing up and going to high school in Lincoln, Nebraska, I always dreamed of wearing the Husker 'N.' 

In fact, when I was in middle school, I walked the stands of Memorial Stadium during games selling concessions to the Husker faithful. I remember pausing in those moments and thinking to myself, how cool it would be to one day play in this great stadium.   

That daydream became a reality in the Fall of 2008. I joined the Nebraska football team as a walk-on. 

As a backup linebacker, however, you have to find a way to get on the field. After redshirting my freshman year, I joined the special teams unit.

From 2009 - 2012, I played in every single game and took an incredible amount of pride in my specialized role.

Special Teams, although often overlooked, is a crucial component of any football team. No single game is won without competing in all three phases of the game. 

I did everything in my power to ensure that our special teams unit was doing everything that we possibly could to put our team in a position to win each game. 

To this day, it was one of the greatest honors of my life. I had the opportunity to represent the University of Nebraska on and off the field. 

A new trade


But what do you do when that honor fades? When the days of "repping" the scarlet and cream come to a sudden halt? 

Those were the questions that I was facing once my time at Nebraska had come to an end. I had earned my bachelor’s degree in finance and was spending my professional days in a fancy cubicle solving the world's financial problems. 

One thing was missing, though. 

I was no longer competing.   

It was in that very moment, sitting in that cubicle, that I remembered a conversation that I had with our strength and conditioning coach, James Dobson, during my time at Nebraska. 

He had mentioned some connections he had in North Carolina. 

A state that was very familiar to me. 

I spent a good portion of my young childhood there and still, to this day, have family in the area.

The connections he had, however, were centered around something far more unfamiliar to me than football. 


My life, up to this point, had been all about football. Sure, being a North Carolina native, I'd keep up with the NASCAR races. I was a fan. After all, Mooresville, North Carolina, is known as the NASCAR Capital of the World. 

I'd watch races on Sundays throughout high school and college and would chat with friends about the results. 

In terms of knowing enough to be a part of the sport, however, I wasn't so sure of. 

If there was one thing that I was confident in, though, it was that my time at the University of Nebraska had prepared me for anything that this life could possibly throw my way. 

I was ready to get back into sports and reignite that competitive fire.

So, I decided to give it a shot.

A jackman


I was excited for this new adventure.

I quickly found my niche as a jackman. A physical and demanding position within the pit crew whose primary responsibility is to jack the car up so that the tires can be changed during a pit stop. 

When the driver pulls into the pit lane, I sprint to the right side of the car to begin. I jack the car up for the team and assist with changing the right front tire. 

As a team, we then sprint over to the left side, where I, again, jack up the car and assist with changing the left rear tire. 

All the while, the car is being filled up with fuel.

No need to grasp the basics, but ideally, this is all complete within a 9.5 - 10.5 second window. The clock is our competition. It is a literal race against time. 

Currently, I serve as the jackman for Joey Logano's pit crew. 

Together, we just secured our second NASCAR Cup Series Championship — our first since 2018. 

As I sat with Joey in victory lane, as the sole remaining member of that 2018 pit crew, I couldn't help but reflect on the number of sacrifices it took to reach this point together. The amount of pressure that we face on a daily basis and the amount of hard work that goes into the long, grueling 36-week seasons. 

This was not the plan. The plan was to be a Husker, get a degree, and then serve as a financial advisor in the greater Lincoln area. 

Here I sit, in victory lane, over 10 years later, as a jackman in the NASCAR Cup Series, and I am left with an incredible amount of gratitude to be back competing. 

Just as I was when I wore the scarlet and cream. 

Thankful to be a part of something bigger than I thought I was ever capable of.