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Getting to know Rich Gutierrez, gas man for the No. 48 Chevrolet

CONCORD, N.C. (Dec. 7, 2009)—From building the brakes and suspension components during the week to refueling Jimmie Johnson’s Lowe’s Chevrolet on race day, Rich Gutierrez has helped the No. 48 team achieve history.

Full name:  Richard Gutierrez

Hometown: Yorba Linda, Calif.

Education: Graduated from Esperanza High School in Anaheim, Calif., in 1991. I attended Cypress College in California and Kent State University in Ohio.

Team/Job duties:  At the track, I’m the gas man for the No. 48 Chevrolet; At the shop I am the brake and suspension specialist. I build all the front spindles rear-end housing, front calipers rear calipers, pedal boxes, master cylinders, etc.

Time at current job: Eight years. I started in 2002. At that time, I was working in the (Nos.) 24/48 shop during the week and jacking Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 25 Cup Chevrolet on raceday. I’ve spent the last four years gassing the No. 48 Chevrolet.

On winning four straight Cup titles with the No. 48 team: I think it’s pretty neat that no one has done that period. We went to the last New York celebration (after winning the 2008 Cup), and now we’re going to the inaugural Las Vegas celebration. I think that’s pretty significant.

On how the No. 48 team has changed: Our goals have changed. In the beginning it was all about getting the one championship. And now that is our goal every year, but the way you go about it and the way you think about it changes. We have more confidence. Our core guys on the team are really mentally strong where they don’t let things bother them or change their views of what’s going on – whether it be the media or a bad race. Let’s face it. Any week at any racetrack you go to, with Jimmie (Johnson, driver) you’re going to run good. You have a chance to win. I think that just trickles down.

Years in racing: I was born into racing. My family owns a go-kart track and race shop in Ohio so I got my first race kart when I was three years old. I grew up in a race shop, racing karts against Tony Stewart. That was before I got too big to actually race them—then I had to build them.

First racing job:  I worked in the race shop so I worked as a mechanic for different drivers. Sam Hornish Jr.’s dad hired me to do everything for him at the racetack—prepare the karts, prepare everything.  But my first real racing job was with Robby Gordon. I worked for him in his shop in California. He raced Indy Car and off-road series. Then, I came out here with him in 1999.

On his first pit crew job: I was the jackman first for Robby Gordon and then at Petty Enterprises. When I got here, I jacked the (No.) 25 car for Joe Nemechek and then Brian Vickers. I first got into it because at Robby Gordon’s the crew chief asked me, ‘Hey, how athletic are you?’ I said, ‘I played sports all my life.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you try to jack the car?’ So I watched half the practice, and I grabbed the jack, and I did it. Two weeks later, I was jacking the car.

On his first experience jacking the car:The very first time I jacked the car, I just about cut my left thumb off because nobody told me to make sure your thumb is not there. So the jack comes down and grabs my glove and rips my thumbnail the very first time. I didn’t say anything. I just thought, ‘I don’t want to do that anymore,’ and I kept going. That was a life lesson learned.

On how being a gas man now compares to being the jackman: Jacking the car is physical, where gassing is more mental than anything.  If you’ve jacked you can gas no problem as far as physically. But gassing requires different attributes because you also make adjustments on the car during a stop. When Chad (Knaus, crew chief) is calling out adjustments, you have to react.

First job overall: My first non-racing job —I was the manager of a pizza place, Lamppost Pizza in Yorba Linda, when I was 18. All my friends worked for me—it was awesome. I was the manager for two years.

If I wasn’t in racing I would be: Probably a football coach. My high school team went 14-0 and won the state title my senior year. Football was a big part of growing up in California, and I always had a coach. I was always in sports – I did football, wrestling and track in high school, and wrestled until my sophomore year of college.

Best racing memory: Winning the 2006 Daytona 500 was pretty spectacular. There was quite a bit of pressure since Chad was not there. For the team to rally and Jimmie (Johnson, driver) to rally and people to step up like (then-interim crew chief) Darian Grubb and the pit crew – winning that race was a pretty good feeling.

Favorite track:  Sonoma, Calif., because brakes mean something. I like road courses. I come from a go-kart background so I enjoy going to both road courses. I’m probably one of the only people who thinks there should be more. And I love the weather and the atmosphere. It’s great in Sonoma.
Hobbies outside of racing: Golf and spending a lot of time with my wife Yevette, daughters Alyssa and Vanissa and sons Damian and Victor.

On the off weekends: My family and I travel. We go to Charleston (S.C.), the Outer Banks (N.C.), on cruises, and so on. But at least one weekend a year I stay home and watch football.

Favorite sport other than racing: Football. The Pittsburgh Steelers. The only two people I played high school football with who made it to the pros played for the Steelers. (DE) Travis Kirschke still plays for them. He’s been in the league 11 years.

When I’m not at the track you can find me: I’m usually at home with the family or trying to golf on occasion when it fits in.
Pets: A dog named Chanel.
Favorite movie: “Vision Quest.”

Favorite music group: Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime.

My current car is: A Chevrolet truck.

Dream car: My grandpa had a ’48 Chevy truck. That was my dream car, but he restored it and sold it. He didn’t even tell me.

What you’ll find on my iPOD: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sublime, Linkin Park, Metallica, Jay-Z.

Favorite food: Mexican.

Before the race, I always: Set up the crash cart, which is a cart that contains pieces for the car to fix it, to repair it under crash damage.

During a pit stop, I’m thinking: If you’re thinking, it’s too late.

I knew I wanted a job in NASCAR when: Robby (Gordon) said, ‘I’m moving to North Carolina, and I want to take you.’ I said, “When?” He said, “Two weeks.” So me, my wife, my daughter packed up in my truck drove out here. We didn’t know where to live. All I knew as Robby told me to live off (Hwy 77) exit 28. I drove to exit 28 got an apartment and started working that Monday.

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