Hendrick Motorsports

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No. 48 team earns Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew honors

VALENCIA, Calif. (Dec. 1, 2008) – A key component of the No 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team’s championship formula is the performance of the over-the-wall crew.  In the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson’s performance on the track was matched with near perfection on pit road by his crew members. The result was a third consecutive Cup title for Johnson and the Hendrick Motorsports team which matched the 30-year record established by Cale Yarborough (1976-1978).

For their efforts on pit road, the No. 48 crew members have earned the Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award for the third time and second straight year.  No other team has won the honor more than once in the seven-year history of the award.

The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award is given quarterly during the season with those four winners eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award and a check for $100,000.  The quarterly and year-end recipients are determined by a vote of NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chiefs.  The presentation will be made at the 2008 NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers Media Luncheon at Cipriani in New York City on Thursday.

“It takes an entire team to be successful in this sport and my over-the-wall guys are awesome,” Johnson said.  “I know each time I come down pit road that they’re going to do their jobs and help me win the race.  They definitely deserve to be the pit crew of the year, and I’m proud to have them on this Lowe’s team.”

The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team, led by crew chief Chad Knaus, swept fourth-quarter honors last year en route to its second year-end award and $100,000 bonus.  The team also won in 2004.

“This crew is unbelievable,” said Knaus, who became the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win three straight Cup titles.  “They’re some of the best on pit road.  They step up in tough situations and always pull through when we need them most.  I’m proud of each of them and think it’s great that Mechanix Wear is recognizing their hard work.”

In the 10 races that made up the Chase, the No. 48 team had two finishes (15th at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway) outside the top 10.  Johnson recorded three wins and a pair of runner-up finishes during the Chase and concluded the season with seven trips to Victory Lane, 15 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s.

“The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award was created to recognize the men and women who pride themselves on working together for a common goal,” said Ted Abdon, Mechanix Wear director of racing.  “The No. 48 over-the-wall crew demonstrated once again its commitment to excellence.  Working together as a cohesive unit, the stops were quick.  The execution was precise.  The results were impressive.  The dedication to detail once again earned the 48 crew the respect of their peers.
“The Lowe’s over-the-wall pit crew embodies what it means to be a team.  We are proud to present this award to them for their hard work and dedication throughout the Championship season.”

“I think it’s great that Mechanix Wear has chosen to recognize this crew,” said Greg Morin, pit crew coach of the No. 48 team.  “They have worked very hard this year to perform at the level they do during each pit stop.  These guys have put in a lot of hours conditioning in the gym and training at pit practice, not to mention the hours they put in on the shop floor.  To start the season as a new group, work as hard as they have and achieve the results they’ve achieved is amazing.  I’m very proud of this program and of these guys. They certainly deserve all the recognition they get.”

The first-quarter winner was the No. 18 over-the-wall crew, while the No. 9 team prevailed in the second quarter.  Third-quarter honors went to the No. 99 crew.  The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team emerged the fourth-quarter winner. 

The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet “over the wall” crew
Kenneth Purcell, jackman
Mike Lingerfelt, front-tire changer
Art Simmons, front-tire carrier
Jeremy West, rear-tire changer
Ron Malec, rear-tire carrier
Rick Gutierrez, gas man
Mike Knauer, catch can
Greg Morin, coach