Newsletter Signup
Pit crews set for challenge

Pit crews set for challenge

CONCORD, N.C.(May 14, 2008) - Consider them the defense. While drivers are battling for better track position, the pit crew members are behind the scenes, ready to do their part to keep their car in the race. It’s a pretty glamour-less, high-stress role, when you think about it. In a matter of seconds -- about 13 on average -- pit crew members are changing tires, refueling the car and making other adjustments. Each maneuver requires quick precision because every second matters. And on Thursday at Time-Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, all four of Hendrick Motorsports’ pit crews will have a chance to showcase their skills by competing against other NASCAR pit crews. The NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge features individual and team events. The individual competition will spotlight the best front-tire changer, front-tire carrier, rear-tire changer, rear-tire carrier, gas man, catch-can man and jack man. The team event involves the individual parts and ends with the crew pushing the car. The challenge kicks off at 7 p.m. While the crews won’t be surrounded by the normal sounds of pit road -- engines revving and air-guns shrieking -- their mental focus will be just as important to success during the challenge as it is during the race. At the sound of a buzzer, the members will have to be ready to perform their duties. Mental focus and efficiency are crucial, just as they are every weekend at the racetrack. Greg Morin, coach of the Nos. 24 and 48 pit crews said it’s not a matter of being fast. It’s a matter of being efficient. Speed by itself can breed mistakes. During the race, the Nos. 5, 24, 48 and 88 crews stay focused on consistently completing the task at hand. That won’t change on Thursday. “Our challenge is to do our job to the best we can, which is what we try to do every Sunday,” said D.J. Richardson, rear-tire changer for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet. “We’re on camera almost every stop during the race, so there is a lot of pressure to do good consistently.” Consistency is what makes the difference -- even in preparation. During Thursday’s challenge and on race day, the crews make it look effortless. That’s because during the week, they’re reviewing film with Morin or Mark Mauldin, who coaches the Nos. 5 and 88 pit crews. And they’re working out with trainer Mark Morrison, who has crafted a specific plan for each position -- from the jackman to the tire changer. “These guys really are athletes,” said Bobby Nicely, assistant coach to the Nos. 24 and 48 teams. “They work out like athletes; they practice three to four times a week like athletes.” And because they are athletes, they always enjoy the chance to compete. On Thursday, a successful pit stop can mean a nice check. But if nothing else, the team is getting additional practice -- and that never hurts. “I think the pit crew challenge is a fun occasion for the teams,” Mauldin said. “Just the nature of our sport makes it a competitive event. Everyone wants to win. Some of the guys say they don’t take it too seriously, but when the lights come on, they definitely give it all they have.” The crews: No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet Jackman Jason Hunt (Greensboro, N.C.) Front-tire changer Kip Wolfmeier (Kingdom City, Mo.) Front-tire carrier J.D. Holcomb (Whitesburg, Ky.) Rear-tire changer Josh Kirk (Chambersburg, Pa.) Rear-tire carrier Jason Jones (Rhine, Ga.) Catch can Scott Radel (Massillon, Ohio) Gasman Brad Pickens (Greer, S.C.) Coach Mark Mauldin

No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet Jackman Jeff Cook (Charlotte, N.C.) Catch can Jamie Frady (Hendersonville, N.C.) Front-tire carrier Mike Houston (Concord, N.C.) Gas man Caleb Hurd (Pulaski, Va.) Rear-tire carrier Jeff Knight (Matthews, N.C.) Rear-tire changer Tim Ladyga (Norwich, Conn.) Front-tire changer Clay Robinson (Simi Valley, Calif.) Coach Greg Morin Assistant coach Bobby Nicely

No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Gas man Rich Gutierrez (Yorba Linda, Calif.) Catch can Mike Knauer (Cambridge, Md.) Front-tire changer Mike Lingerfelt (Travelers Rest, S.C.) Rear-tire carrier Ron Malec (Franklin, Wis.) Jackman Kenneth Purcell (Savannah, Ga.) Front-tire carrier Art Simmons (Newark, Mo.) Rear-tire changer Jeremy West (Los Angeles) Coach Greg Morin Assistant coach Bobby Nicely

No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet Front-tire changer Adam Emmert (McCall, Idaho) Gasman Chris Fasulka (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Catch can Jason Dalrymple (Concord, N.C.) Front-tire carrier Ben Fischbeck (Waynesville, Mo.) Rear-tire carrier Matt Myers (Ford City, Pa.) Jackman Rick Pigeon, (Fairfax, Vt.) Rear-tire changer D.J. Richardson (Leomister, Mass.) Coach Mark Mauldin