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11 in 11! Pit Crew Champs Again!

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team, which pits the car of driver Denny Hamlin, became the first back-to-back winner of the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, defeating the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team, which pits the car of five-time defending Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

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In a matchup of the teams that finished 1-2 in last year’s Cup standings, the No. 11 completed its stop — jacking the car, fueling and changing front and rear tires — and pushed its Toyota across the finish line in 22.298 seconds to 22.714 for the No. 48 Chevrolet.

Scott Wood (gas man), Justin White (second gas can man), Nick Krizmanich (front tire changer), Brandon Pegram (front tire carrier), Mike Hicks (rear tire changer), Heath Cherry (rear tire carrier) and Nate Bolling (jack man) made up the winning team.

Asked what the defining characteristic of his crew is, Hamlin joked, “They’re all bigger than me, and they can all beat my [butt].”

The team took particular pleasure in beating the No. 48 squad.

“Any time we can beat the 48 … it’s especially gratifying to beat them,” Wood said. “And going back-to-back is especially gratifying, too. But we’d trade this in a heartbeat to beat ‘em at the end of the year — when it counts.”

As was the case last year, the victory in the Pit Crew Challenge will give Hamlin first choice of pit stalls for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The no-brainer selection is pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road.

The No. 11 crew beat the No. 22 (Kurt Busch) to set up a semifinal matchup against the crowd-favorite No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), which beat the No. 27 (Paul Menard) Richard Childress Racing entry. Though Earnhardt was on hand to cheer his crew, Hamlin’s team prevailed in one of the closest races of the evening — 22.259 seconds to 23.325.

In the other semifinal, the No. 14 team of owner/driver Tony Stewart beat the No. 48 across the finish line, but drew 10 seconds of penalties for fueling issues. As a result, the No. 48 team advanced.

Fueling problems with the new closed system mandated by NASCAR this year cost Stewart dearly in last Sunday’s race at Dover. Though the Pit Crew Challenge featured the fueling system in place last year, it nevertheless proved the downfall of the No. 14 Chevrolet team, which had performed flawlessly in advancing to the semifinals.

The individual competition was dominated by the No. 33 Chevrolet team of Clint Bowyer and Stewart’s No. 14 team, as members of those two crews broke event records in every individual category.

The rear tire changer/rear tire carrier combination of Dustin Necaise and Matt Kreuter (No. 33) completed their skills in 13.846 seconds in winning the competition for the second consecutive year. They joined teammates Jason Pulver and Austin Craven (front tire changer/carrier) who completed their skills in 13.901 seconds.

“The thing was, those old records were on short wheel studs,” Kreuter said, noting that the wheels studs were lengthened before the start of 2011 season. “That tells you how far all these tire changers have come.”

Mike Casto of the No. 14 Chevy won the competition for fastest jack man in 5.071 seconds, while teammates Rick Pigeon and Ryan Flores won the individual competition among gas men in 8.652 seconds.

Each individual champion won $10,000. The winning team collected $70,675.

Sporting News Wire Service

NO. 18 M&Ms PIT CREW FINDS SWEET SUCCESS

NO. 18 M&Ms Pit Crew Finds Sweet Success On Pit Road in First Quarter

 
Kyle Busch’s Over-the-Wall Team Voted First Quarter
Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew

 
The pit crew of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota for Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing has earned first-quarter honors in the 2011 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award competition, taking home the $5,000 quarterly prize – a sweet reward that could buy a lot of M&Ms.

The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award, which is determined by a vote of each team’s crew chief, is given quarterly to the top-performing pit crew in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The four quarterly winners are eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award presented during Champion’s Week in Las Vegas – and the $100,000 grand prize.

This year celebrates the 10th annual Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Championship – the only authentic competition voted on by crew chiefs – as well as the safety innovator’s 20th year in the sport. Mechanix Wear, the #1 glove in racing, is the Official Glove of NASCAR® used by nearly all pit crew members in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“I think that our M&M’s/Interstate Batteries team is the best week in and week out on pit road. It’s great to see them get the credit they deserve,” said Kyle Busch. “I say it every week – those guys win me a lot of races and get me a lot of good finishes. A big thanks to Mechanix Wear for honoring all of their hard work.”

So far, Busch and the No. 18 team have two wins, five top-fives and six top-10s. As Busch continues to perform well on the track, Dave Rogers, crew chief on the No. 18 Toyota, continues to maintain that same level of performance by keeping the pit crew at the top of its game.

“I’m proud that my guys have received this title after their continued excellence,” said Rogers. “Our team has two wins this season so far and we plan to have many more. They are some of the sport’s best and strive to continue to be.”

Members of the No. 18 M&M’s pit crew include: Nick Odell (Front Tire Changer), Brad Donaghy (Front Tire Carrier), Jake Seminara (Rear Tire Changer), Kenny Barber (Rear Tire Carrier), Jeff Fender (Jackman), and Dan Bajek (Fueler). The team’s pit crew coaches are Mike Lepp and Paul Alepa.

“A quick grip and a strong hand is crucial to any pit stop in any of the NASCAR racing series,” said Ted Abdon, Director of Racing for Mechanix Wear. “The right kind of glove not only aids with this but works as a tool to keep the pit crews safer and more efficient. We continue to strive to produce the best product available to ensure they can continue to be the best.”

Drew Herring to Drive No.20 Sport Clips

Joe Gibbs Racing Announces Drew Herring To Drive No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota Sunday in Iowa Nationwide Series Race
 
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (May 16, 2011) – Joe Gibbs Racing announces today that Drew Herring will pilot the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Iowa this Sunday, May 22.

Herring, 23, has made four career starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with all four outings coming last season. His career-best finish came at Iowa Speedway in 2010 when he finished on the lead lap and posted a 15th-place finish.

“This is a great opportunity for me to run for Joe Gibbs Racing in Iowa this weekend,” said Herring. “The 20 team is competing for the Nationwide Series Owner’s Championship and it’s exciting to be part of those efforts. Iowa is a place I’ve had the chance to race before and I’m fairly comfortable with the track so hopefully we’ll give Sport Clips a great day.”

JGR’s Denny Hamlin, part of the Nationwide Series No. 20 team of drivers, is familiar with Herring from their days of racing Late Models together.

“I have known Drew and raced with him for a long time,” said Hamlin. “We used to compete in Late Models together so I know what he can do behind the wheel. He’s a talented driver and good guy, I am happy he has this opportunity to get into good equipment at JGR and show what he can do.”

Herring began his racing career at the age of 10 years old while running in the Bandolero series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In three years he started 60 races on the Bandolero Series and totaled 20 victories and 57 top-five finishes.

Herring would move up to the Allison Legacy ranks in 2001 making 11 starts with five top-five finishes and seven top tens. A year later it was on to racing Late Models. He would win the South Boston Speedway Championship in 2006 winning nine of the final 13 races of the season. Herring would follow that performance with seven victories and 21 top-five finishes in 29 races at Southern National Raceway in 2007 to claim both the regular season championship and the Championship Series Championship.

Herring would claim Rookie of the Year honor while racing in the Pro Cup Series in 2008 with seven top-ten finishes in 13 races. He also has experience at Iowa Speedway in the Pro Cup Series, having won the pole there in 2009 and earning a second-place finish.

Herring is a native of Benson, NC and is currently completing his degree in mechanical engineering at NC State University.

For more information on Drew Herring, visit his website at: www.drewherring.net

Glad That's Over, Dover

Kyle Busch led Joe Gibbs Racing with a fourth-place finish in today’s FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway, while Denny Hamlin finished 16th and an early spin relegated Joey Logano to 27th place.

The track known as the “Monster Mile” was certainly hard to tame today with heavy rain overnight and early in the morning taking the rubber off the concrete oval and a mix of sun and clouds adding to the challenges for teams trying to dial in the proper balance and handle on their cars.

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With qualifying rained out on Saturday, Busch’s practice time would have given the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota the seventh starting position for the green flag to start today’s race, but an engine change on Friday would force him to the back of the field. The setback hardly appeared to deter Busch and his M&Ms crew however as he began his drive toward the front of the field. An early two-tire call allowed Busch to leap inside the top 20 and amazingly the M&Ms Camry would take over the 12th position by lap 131. Busch would enter the top ten just before the midpoint of the race and spend most of the second half of the race in that position. He would climb into the top five late in the race with a great pit stop and excellent restart. When it was over Busch had earned a solid fourth-place finish despite having to overcome the last-place start.

Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground/Autism Speaks Toyota in the 25th position and battled changing handling conditions throughout the race. Hamlin would race his way into the top 20 early, but wasn’t able to continue the climb as he sat outside the top 10 for most of the race. Unfortunately despite several attempts from his FedEx crew to improve the handle on his FedEx Ground Camry, Hamlin just couldn’t find the balance he needed on the very slippery concrete oval in Dover. He would have to settle for a 16th-place finish.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the fourth position today at Dover and was hopeful for a solid top-five finish with an opportunity to compete for victory, especially following an impressive third-place finish in last year’s fall race at the “Monster Mile.” Unfortunately, the Monster would take a bite out of his Home Depot Camry early when he brought out the first caution of the day with a spin on lap 20. What made the accident even more unfortunate is that Logano appeared to have a strong car through the early going as he drove into fourth place through the early laps. But damage to the right front fender from the spin would force him to pit road for repairs and leave him a lap off the pace. Logano would later lose another lap to the field during a long green flag run as the damage adjusted the handle on the car and the splitter was making contact with the track. Logano and the Home Depot team fought throughout the day to make the car as good as it could be despite the early setback, but unfortunately they were never able to make up the lost ground and were forced to settle for a disappointing 27th-place finish.

Matt Kenseth captured the victory, while Mark Martin finished second, Marcos Ambrose was third, Busch was fourth and Brian Vickers rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 28 laps and 23 lead changes among 11 different drivers over the course of the 400-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series comes to Charlotte next weekend with the annual All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The All-Star Race, which is a non-points race, will be televised live by SPEED on Saturday, May 21 starting with the twin Showdown races for the final qualifying spots at 7 PM ET.

Monster Mash

The Monster Mile in Dover, DE took a bite out of all three Joe Gibbs Racing car on Saturday afternoon. Wet weather threatened to postpone the event, but after several track-drying operations the full distance (and then some) was able to be run. Brian Scott lost control of his No. 11 Shore Lodge Toyota early in the event and hit the inside retaining wall on the front stretch which running in the Top-10. After extensive repairs, he was able to return to the track. However, Brian eventually retired from the event in 30th position.

Joey Logano and Kyle Busch proved to be stiff competition for the other leaders throughout the race, consistently running in the Top-5. Busch would have to make a long pit stop after receiving damage to the No. 18 MAC Tools Toyota from an accordion-style incident while entering pit road. Meanwhile, Logano would battle for the lead with Carl Edwards for much of the race. A late race incident set up the second of two Green-White-Checkered finishes and saw Logano restart 2nd and Busch 6th. Off of turn for, coming to take the white flag, Logano and Edwards were side by side when Edwards’ car started to lose rear grip exiting the turn. His car slid up the track near Logano’s left-rear quarter panel. As Logano described, the front splitter from Edwards’ car packed air under the back of the No. 20 GameStop Toyota, creating an ‘aero-loose’ situation. Logano’s car veered into the outside wall, bounced off of it, and back into traffic where the No. 33 made contact and launched into the air. Busch received heavy damage while trying to avoid the mayhem. All drivers walked away from the incident without injury. Logano would end up 13th, and Busch amazingly limped home in 2nd.

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