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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

Max Gresham Puts Wraps On Birthday Weekend Tripleheader

GRIFFIN, GA (May 4, 2011) – Three races in four days along a birthday and an anniversary made last weekend one that Max Gresham will never forget.

Gresham competed in the NASCAR K&N event and the Denny Hamlin Short-Track Showdown in Richmond, VA on Thursday before heading to Salem, IN for an ARCA race Sunday. Along the way, Gresham celebrated his 18th birthday and saluted his grandparents 50th-wedding anniversary.

When asked if the whole experience had worn him out right after Sunday’s ARCA race, Gresham responded “no, I’m fine, let’s go again somewhere.”

You couldn’t blame Gresham if he was just at least a little tired.

At Richmond, Gresham spent more than eight hours in a racecar and sped on foot between garage areas throughout the day.

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The results were spectacular as Gresham wheeled the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the pole position, led nearly half the race, and finished fourth in the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event.

“We had an awesome lap to win the pole – two-tenths of a second faster than anyone else,” said Gresham. “It carried over into the race where we led a bunch and were fast over the first 60 laps. We ran in the top two the whole race until the car fell off really bad at the end. The finish definitely helped us in the points. Any top-five finish we can get is going to help us in the points at the end of the season.”

The solid effort jumped Gresham to seventh in the K&N East standings after three races – just 65 markers out of first.

The soon to be Woodward Academy high school graduate had little time to catch his breath as he immediately jumped into the No. 71 FedEx Freight/ARGO Group Toyota for the Hamlin ‘Showdown’ event. The race, which featured top NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Michael Waltrip, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Hamlin, saw Gresham rocket from his eighth starting position to swapping the lead several times with Busch, the sport’s current top star at the race’s halfway point.

Gresham saw his shot at winning the race go up in smoke when a crash not of his making while running fourth with less than 10 laps to go saddled him with a 14th-place finish.

“It was great racing Kyle for the lead,” said Gresham. “I absolutely love Richmond. You can really have fun doing the kind of side-by-side racing that Kyle and I did. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we wanted, but our FedEX Freight/ARGO Group Toyota was definitely the fastest car here tonight. I really have to thank Jamie Yelton and Fat Head Racing for that. I had a blast, a really amazing day. I can’t wait to come back here to Richmond and race again.”

After a half-day back in his native Georgia to regroup, Gresham flew to Indiana to make his 2011 ARCA Series debut in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 at Salem Speedway. There, Gresham drove to the front by the halfway point of the race and was running fifth with a fresh set of tires waiting for him in the Venturini Motorsports pit box when a tangle with a lapped car severely damaged his No. 25 Gresham & Associates Toyota Camry.

Undaunted, the Venturini crew repaired the car in time to get Gresham back on track for a respectable 15th-place finish.
“We had a good run going and got swept up into somebody else’s mess,” said Gresham. “We led some early in the race. These Venturini Motorsports guys put a great car under me. They set up two great race cars today – one won and the other one should have won. I can’t wait to drive one of their cars again.

“This weekend was good for me,” Gresham concluded. “It showed I could drive three different cars on three different days. Hopefully, I can one day be like Kyle (Busch) and run three different cars every weekend. I can do it physically. Maybe after this weekend, some other people will see that in me.”

Gresham will now hit the testing trail with sessions at Bowman Gray Stadium , the site of an upcoming June 4 NASCAR K&N event, and he will also get some testing in at Michigan Speedway on Wednesday, May 25. The Jackson, MI two-mile oval will be the site of Gresham’s career superspeedway debut as he will wheel the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota in the ARCA RainEater Wiper Blades 200 on June 17.

Gresham’s next K&N race will be on Saturday, May 21 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. He and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota are the defending champions of the event.

To see photo galleries of Max Gresham’s weekend at Richmond and Salem, please visit the Images section of www.MaxGresham.com.

Max Gresham post-race videos from Richmond and Salem can be viewed on the YouTube section of www.MaxGresham.com.

You can also follow Max Gresham on Twitter @Max Gresham and on Facebook at Max Gresham Fan Page.