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Sprint Pit Crew Challenge Night May 19, 2010

Posted by claireblang in 2010 Season, Crew Chiefs, Crew Members, Fun Stuff, Pit Crew Challenge.
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The Boys Are Back In Town!!

It’s a highlight, back-home, bragging rights night in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight for the pit crews of NASCAR who are back in town for the All-Star Race activities and who will compete in the Sprint All Star Pit Crew Challenge. Opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. EST at Time Warner Cable Arena.

There are 24 eligible teams who will each be able to bring five sets of tires and their own lug nuts to the event as well as air guns and jacks. Teams can bring four support members in addition to the seven competitors. The teams supply their own “push” car with tech requirements stipulated by NASCAR in the NSPCC Technical Bulletin. This stuff is serious!

All drivers, car owners, crew members and team members must have a valid NASCAR license that has not been suspended or revoked. Participating crew members have to be licensed to the team they are competing for and must be active on the current roster of “over the wall” crew members.

Seeding is done through the 2010 Sprint Cup Series Car owner point standings through Dover, and the top eight teams in points will receive a bye into the second round of competition. In addition to the fastest team in the event receiving the honors of champion, the fastest crew member at each station will be crowned as the individual champion and each of the winning individual crew members will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

The key to the event is the 40-yard push – where after completing their duties as jack man, tire carrier, tire changer, gas man, etc., the team must push their 3,200 pound race car (steered by their driver) across the finish line.

Speeds Coverage of the event begins at 9:00 p.m. (tape delayed) “Dialed In” on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio will begin LIVE coverage as the event begins at 7:00 p.m. EST

Last year, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet pit crew outpaced the No. 43 US Air Force Dodge team to capture the team title. While doing so, the team set a new event record with a time of 22.115 seconds and earned a $70,675 payout, which equates to $10,096 per crew member or $3,195 earnings per second.

Individual winners in 2009 were:

Dennis Terry, Front Tire Changer No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 14.855
Shannon Keys, Front Tire Carrier No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 14.855
Jake Seminara Front Tire Changer No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 14.900
Kenny Barber Rear Tire Carrier No. 18 M&M’s Toyota 14.900
Preston Cordell Gas Man No.1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 10.072
Eric Hoyle Catch Can No.1 Bas Pro Shops Chevy 10.072
Jeff Kerr Jack Man No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevy 5.666

Take a look at the bios of the team guys on the roster for tonight’s event and you’ll see many of them are racers or who knew people who were in racing. These guys first jobs range from commercial fisherman, to golf course manager, log cutter, steel tower construction, air craft refueler, commercial driver and firefighter, to name just a few of the interesting occupations these guys held before their current team role in NASCAR. Trevor Lysne the Front Tire Changer for the No. 42 Target Chevy worked in a treatment center for troubled children before racing. Kenneth Purcell the jack man for the No. 48 Chevy used to work at his dad’s animal hospital before joining the team.

The team guys have nicknames within their teams, like Jeff Patterson the two-time individual champion gas man from the No. 14 Office Depot Chevy whose nickname is “Gooch” and Mike Morneau the rear tire changer for the No. 14 who the guys call “Shrek.”

And their teams have nicknames too. The over-the-wall teams nickname for the No.333 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy is the “Helping Hands pit crew.” Each crew member has the Hamburger helper hand on their firesuit doing their respective position. The jackman has the Hand holding the jack, the fueler has a gas can, etc.

Some, come from a long line of crew member or racing families. Take, for example Jeremy West from the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet. He and his father worked on David Gilliland’s car in the Winston West series. They won the championship in 1996. Jeremy changed and his dad, John, carried.

These guys have played football and rugby, wrestling, baseball and soccer in college and several have been semi-professional athletes. Shaun Peet the jack man for the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota is a former professional hockey player. Some of them have been carrying or changing tires for a race team for over years. Their pit crew coaches train them hard with everything from weights to yoga, aquatic and heat training.

These guys have seen their share of close calls on pit road and some have been hit in the line of duty. Eric Maycroft the rear tire changer for the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota said, “Yes, (I’ve been hit) by AJ Allmendinger, the wing caught me and flipped me into the next pit stall head over heels.”

The pit road warriors who have their time in the spot light tonight at the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge are an integral part of winning in NASCAR Sprint Cup series that most of their drivers will attend tonight’s event to show support and these guys are scouted, under contract, and in the pressure-cooker that making up time on pit road presents must be at the top of their game physically and mentally to have made it to the level of pit crew member for NASCAR’s elite division teams.

Tonight, is their night. These guys are the best of the best and their families and their team members and their drivers and their fans will be there to cheer them on.

It’s a great event. For more information check http://www.pitcrewchallenge.com.

Media Pit Crew Event!

On Tuesday national and local media members competed in the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at Time Warner arena. The event, just for fun, pitted media members from various national and local broadcast and television entities against each other in the media pit crew competition. For the second year in a row as the driver of the car for the winning team, after surviving two heat races and the final face off against a team from the Carolina Panthers (pushing the car like it was Super Bowl Sunday) I felt just a slight sensation of what these guys will feel like tonight. Just as the final heat race was about to begin while filing a report, it was a rush to get into the race car in the nick of time, secure the steering wheel and be pushed to the line. The key to driving the car in this event (a role a number of driver’s wives will handle tonight) is to not brake while you are pushed towards a brick wall, and then just in the nick of time slam on the break. Ah, sweet victory!

See the photo of the winning crew, including my team mates Ray Dunlap, Phil Parsons and Jeff Hammond from Speed and Fox.

Hope you can make the event or catch it on Speed or SIRIUS NASCAR Radio tonight. It’s well worth it and one of the fun events of All-Star week in the heart of racing in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Claire B Lang
CBL PIT CREW CHALLENGE PHOTO

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OMG – Evernham’s New Office Crib!! Dakar Rally January 27, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Crew Chiefs, Teams.
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OMG – Evernham’s New Office Crib!!

Today (Tuesday, January 27) I went to Ray Evernham Enterprises for a special lunch with Ray as he announced his new course for his future. I was blown away by the museum Evernham has put together at his new museum/shop just off exit 36 on I 77 North. (See the amazing picture).

museumshot--IndyCars

Upon entering the facility – looking through the many trophies and notes and photos and framed articles of racers who lived and died (most all of them died) racing the vehicles on display – – I saw a “Rainbow Warriors” engraved plaque. The etched metal piece on the wood was engraved with the signatures of the guys on the #24 team. Although Evernham has a slew of motivational banners and signs (some given back to him by Lowe’s #48 crew chief Chad Knaus from the time he led the Hendrick group) this one stood out:

“We know how rough the road will be – How heavy here the load will be. We know about the barricades that wait along the track.

But we have set our soul ahead upon a certain goal ahead and nothing left from hell to sky – shall ever turn us back.”

I got goose bumps on that one. Each member of the teams signature is etched below the saying and it’s hard to believe that one group of young men could be as committed to winning and excellence as that team. But you’ll have that in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing and you could almost feel the passion given in the prime years of the guys on that team led by Evernham to being number one.

Today, Evernham is happy and doing things on his terms. It’s not time for champion crew chief Chad Knaus to stop and enjoy what he has built and achieved – he’s still on his game, Evernham said. One day Evernham may return to Sprint Cup racing – but today it’s Evernham’s turn to reflect, collect and share with young racers and up and comers and whomever the heck he wants to share his knowledge with. He’ll help set the land speed record, He’ll create racing opportunities for young stars, host on ESPN, serve as new owner of East Lincoln Speedway and continue to build the museum at REE.

The place was incredible -beyond description. Inside the building, a diner, an antique Texaco gas station store front, bar, and the vehicles…amazing. Check out the photo at right. Impressive Ray!

NASCAR Hauler Driver Meets Dakar Rally LIVE on “Dialed In”

I want to thank Randy Rodriguez the Sprint Cup Series hauler driver for Robby Gordon Motorsports for calling me the first week of January from the Dakar rally when I was on the air on Sirius NASCAR Radio. Not everyone knows that Randy is married to Robby’s mom and he’s a right guy.

I received a phone call as clear as talking to your neighbor and here it was a call from Randy in Argentina. What a story! He talked about the guys, including Robby sleeping in tents, and roll overs and near misses and the crowds that lined the streets and the throngs that welcomed them to South America. His story was so compelling. Once Rodriquez and the team returned he sent me some photos of the trip – (see the photos in the blog sidebar to the right). Enjoy! Rodriguez is a man of his word. He said he would call and he did – he had a special international cell phone and it was a real special surprise to be able to take my listeners LIVE to the Dakar Rally camp of Gordon’s team. Thanks Randy!!

Stay tuned for more excitement and unpredictable calls and inside stories on Dialed In.

I am going to begin posting regular for the season as I leave for Daytona and coverage of the 2009 Daytona 500.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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Kyle Busch’s Team Not Changing Motor Today October 21, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Crew Chiefs, Teams.
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I’m here in the garage at Martinsville Speedway – and getting IM’s from some of you who wonder if the #5 Hendrick team was changing a motor this morning. They were working o
on their race car this morning in the garage – and some folks thought they saw a motor change. They are not changing a motor – I walked into the garage a few minutes ago to check with crew chief Alan Gustafson….

CBL: It looked as if you were changing a motor but you are not, correct?

#5 Crew Chief Alan Gustafson: “Well we were practicing here at Martinsville the Kelloggs Carquest Chevy had some bumper issues. Had some contact with the 16 here on Friday and bent our bumper bar back so thats in pretty close proximity to the radiator so … we all know there’s going to be a little beating and banging here today so we just had to pull the radiator out and fix that front bumper bar and do some work on the nose that’s pretty much it. A little more (work) than usual but not too out of the ordinary for Martinsville.”

CBL: I guess some folks thought they saw you changing the motor on the TV shot

“We had the car backed in here to work on it cause we didn’t want to get a bunch of debris here in the garage and all over these other guys cars here so we had the car nosed out of the garage which is usually the way you’d have it when you change motors.”

It’s amazing how on top of things the race fans are. Great job to those of you who asked about this today.

Claire B

CBL NEWS: Tony Junior Will Leave DEI Early for Hendrick Motorsports September 21, 2007

Posted by claireblang in Breaking News, Crew Chiefs, NASCAR.
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I just talked with Tony Eury Junior – He is leaving DEI before the end of the season to go to Hendrick Motorsports.

CBL: Is it true you’re leaving early?

Tony Junior: “I’ll go over there the Monday after Talladega. My deal is I’ve got to get acquanted with all the people over there you know and I’m going to hang around and look at the shops just get to know everybody and just see how they do things. You know I’m interested in going to the meetings with Grubb and Allan and seeing how they do their meetings and see what they’re after I mean. It’s going to be definately a new role for me and…I got a bigger learning curve than Dale Junior. Dale Junior just got to do his own gig and I gotta make a car go fast. So I gotta go over their and figure out their deal and I just gotta get ready.”

CBL: Did you ask the guys at DEI for a release. It’s probably good for them too:

Tony Junior: Yea when I first talked about getting out of my contract told Max I’m like ‘Look’ I said, ‘We need to think about it. If we make the chase, I’ll work with you till November and if we don’t at some point in time I think we need to well just go I’ll go do that deal and Gibson can step in and get a hand on his game so it’s a benefit for both of us. Pretty much the reason we picked the time frame was just because I think I’ll have everything in line by then. You know these guys I wasn’t going to ditch them and leave them in a hole so all the cars should be lined up in the shop pretty much ready to go except for putting motors in so we’re not going to put these guys in a bind in any way shape or form its just a matter of when things were ready over here and things were good over there then I can go.”

Eury Junior confirmed that he’s going to take four guys from his team as I reported to you earlier this week.

CBL: Will Dale Junior test early (for HMS) or run a Busch car for Hendrick this year?

He probably won’t run any Busch races. We have talked about testing some. Ah, we don’t need to cause any problems. If it will help Regan can drive his car at Atlanta and if we can drive their car then that’s what we’ll do. We’ll do a lot of our winter testing at Kentucky I am sure in November and December but we’re not going to push the envelope too bad to create any more problems than’s already out there.