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Pictures from Iowa

Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, and Drew Herring waited out rainy weather all weekend in Iowa to compete in the Nationwide Series race there on Sunday afternoon. After starting on the front row, Herring in the No. 20 SportClips Toyota and McDowell in the No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota settled for 12th and 7th place finishes respectively. Brian Scott was running 19th late in the event when contact with another car heading into turn one sent the No. 11 Shore Lodge Camry spinning into the outside wall. Enjoy these photos from the event:

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Close, but no All-Star Cigar

The NASCAR Sprint All-Star race unique in many ways with no championship points at stake, but rather a large prize reward for the victor. In addition, it is the shortest race of the season with a total of 100 laps run in four segments, including a 50-lap segment to open the race, followed by two 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag.

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Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota on the pole and led the first several laps of the race before dropping back into the third position for the remainder of the first segment. Busch held on to that position for much of the second 20-lap segment as well. The M&Ms made the decision not to pit following the second segment and Busch started second on the outside lane to open the third portion of the race. He was able to beat Carl Edwards on the restart and claim the lead once again. Edwards would eventually reclaim the lead just prior to the end of the third segment. With a 10-minute break before the final 10-lap segments teams were able to work on the car for an extended period of time. When the 10-minute break concluded all teams would come to the pits for a four tire change. Busch would restart second, but wasn’t able to track down Edwards and went on to finish in that second position.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the 15th position and used the first 50-lap segment to get a good read on his car and gain a couple of spots in the field. He would enter the top 10 for the first time on lap 60 following a caution in the middle of the second segment of the race. Hamlin would jump into the sixth position to open the third segment and enter the top five for the first time on lap 80. He would finish that third segment in the fifth position and the team used the 10-minute break to make final adjustments to the car. The No. 11 Camry would restart the final segment in the sixth position following the four-tire change. Unfortunately Hamlin wasn’t able to improve on his position over those final laps and went on to finish the night seventh.

Joey Logano entered the day needing to race his way into the All-Star race in the 40-lap Showdown event earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, only the top-two finishers would be able to advance into the main event, and Logano was hampered from the outset in a short race when he was forced to start his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota from the back of the field following an engine change on Friday. Despite that setback Logano and The Home Depot made an impressive run to the front of the field, climbing from 27th to eighth place in the first 20 lap segment. He was able to put the No. 20 Camry as high as third late in the race but just wasn’t able to close the gap on the second-place car. He went on to finish fifth and unfortunately out of the All-Star Race.

Carl Edwards captured the victory, while Busch finished second, David Reutimann was third, Tony Stewart was fourth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will remain in Charlotte next week for the circuit’s annual marathon event, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600 will be televised live by Fox on Saturday, May 29 starting with pre-race coverage at 6 PM ET. The race will also be carried on Sirius Radio NASCAR channel 90.

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