Meet NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson's pit crew

Inside Jimmie Johnson's pit crew 02:52

The Daytona 500 kicks off the racing season in less than three weeks, and once again, all drivers will be chasing six-time world champion Jimmie Johnson.

So why has Johnson dominated NASCAR so thoroughly?

For starters -- it may be the men changing his tires and filling up his gas tank.

CBS News' Jeff Glor, on assignment for "60 Minutes Sports," got a chance to meet Johnson's six-man crew.

The cars reach more than 200 miles per hour, but it's possible the most important part of the race is when they aren't moving at all.

Johnson knows that without the 48 team at their best, he will not see victory lane.

Asked if a pit crew can be the difference between winning and losing a race, Johnson said, "Without a doubt. Absolutely. Each and every week. They set their driver up to succeed or not."

They train 11 months of the year, knowing they can be replaced at any time by some quicker and hungrier back-up. 

They hit the film room, just like National Football League players, reviewing what went right and what went wrong and how to function as a synchronized unit.

Ryan Patton was on the strength and conditioning staff at Ohio State University when he was recruited by Hendrick Motorsports. Now, he is the rear-tire carrier for the 48 team.

Patton said, "Every pit stop, people are watching -- whether it's TV and fans, whatever, you know. So, one mistake on this team that could cost them a race, you're on SportsCenter."

CBS News' Jeff Glor remarked, "Everybody else wants to be on SportsCenter. In your job, you don't want to be on SportsCenter."

"If you're on SportsCenter," Patton said, "no, something's gone horribly wrong."

The recruiting and training system has helped produce a mountain of heavy metal for the four teams of Hendrick Motorsports.

Rick Hendrick, of Hendrick Motorsports, said, "This is something that you can walk through when you're having a bad day and it makes you feel good because you know that represents a tremendous amount of work and a lot of success. It takes an awful lot to win one."

Members of the pit crew now make six-figure incomes. They are often recruited from college football and baseball programs. They even train at times at Hendrick with special forces teams.