Trevor Bayne has no problem running more than 10 miles at a time, sometimes in the morning before spending the rest of the day inside the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford.
But when it comes to working out with Les Ebert, Bayne often is pushed to the brink of exhaustion.
“There have been times when I thought I was going to throw up,” he said. “Sometimes you wonder if he remembers we’re racers, not football players.
Ebert left the Jacksonville Jaguars’ weight room to become the strength and training coach at Roush Fenway Racing.
Football and auto racing are dramatically different sports, but he said they share more than people think.
“Whether it’s NASCAR or football, you try and bring their fitness level that’s above and beyond their capability,” Ebert said. “When you do that, you have to push them into the range that’s uncomfortable.”
Ebert worked for six years as the assistant strength coach for the Jaguars. His father used to work for legendary short-track racer Dick Trickle, so trading shoulder pads for impact wrenches wasn’t difficult.
He now is responsible for training the crews and drivers under the Roush Fenway Racing umbrella, which includes all three Sprint Cup Series teams for Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth, the team’s Nationwide Series program for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the research and development teams and Bayne’s Wood Brothers Racing.
He puts the over-the-wall crews through drills during the week and he flies to each race to get the crews warmed-up before each race.
“He’s a pretty legit trainer,” Bayne said. “He puts us through the ringer pretty good. I like being pushed. There are times when I think, ‘What in the world are these guys doing here?’ We claim to be athletes, so you want to be pushed to that level.”
Kenseth’s team was selected as the best crew for the second quarter of the racing season.
“Les keeps us in shape and feeling good, which is really important with the long season and hot weather,” said Cameron Cobb, who’s been Kenseth’s Jackman for the past 11 years.
“Ever since Les came on board, I have less aches and pains from doing my job. Now Les has given me a few aches, but it’s what you need to win. You have to be physically and mentally strong, and he does a good job for us.”