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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

WE WON the media challenge! May 14, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Fun Stuff.
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Whew — WE WON!

2009 MediaPitCrewChallenge

Driving the car in the Sprint Media Pit Crew Challenge!
Speed Team, O.A.R. Drummer, Michael Waltrip, Brian Vickers

My team in the Sprint All Star Media Pit Crew Challenge. Michael Waltrip, Brian Vickers, Rick Allen, Ray Dunlap, Phil Parsons, O.A.R. drummer Chris Culos, and former Patriot safety Tony George. A shout out to those guys, they knocked it out of the ball park pushing the race car, changing tires, jacking, and of course the key to winning the challenge……… pushing!

Ok, so I was asked to represent the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio team in the event. Naturally I wanted to do well for the team. Daniel Norwood, our SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Program Director told me to just go, represent the team, and have fun. He reminded me that I was participating just to have fun. Right. I get to the Time Warner Arena and one member of my team is putting on knee pads. Sign number one. Then, the first thing that happened was Michael Waltrip addresses the team by telling us all, “Just remember we’re NOT doing this for fun, we came here to WIN!.” Oh Noo!! I was there for the wrong reason!

The team gives me the job as the driver of the car since I am the lightest. I am to steer towards a brick wall and not brake until they tell me to. I went to Brian Vickers who was on my pit crew for advice, “You can screw up…only if you turn the wheel or brake too early,” he says. He told me that as the driver I could get mad if he screwed up on the pit crew. “You just cuss me out. Just drop everything you’ve got,” he said of what I, as the driver,was allowed to scream at the tire changer in angst if he under performed. Sounds like fun!

“When we cross the finish line and the car is about to slam into the wall and they’ve declared us the winner, we’ll tell you to hit the break,” SPEED’s Ray Dunlap told me with a grin. He was not joking, or was he?

Waltrip, who was going to carry tires gave me advice on being the driver. “You can complain a lot. You can say you need more money and say you need for somebody to pay for your motor coach and a bunch of things like that,” Waltrip joked. Wow, this driver thing was going to be ok.

“Do not touch the brake, DO NOT TOUCH THE BRAKE,” Rick Allen instructed. Two minutes later, he turned to me and he repeated, “AGAIN, the most important thing is NEVER TOUCH THE BRAKE. I mean the wall will stop you, he joked. Beautiful. Is he joking?

“Local news is here we’re going to kill them,” Ray Dunlap told us. “MRN is here they’ve got no chance,” Dunlap says, trash talking from the start. Then, I eye and point out the team from the U.S. Army and, come on, they looked pretty tough.

Chris Culos, the drummer from O.A.R is on our team. I got a kick out of him. The discussion is whether he or Vickers changes the tires. Chris has changed a tire on the side of the road before but it took him an hour. “Chris, you are our rhythm,” Rick Allen tells him. “I can do that,” he says with a smile. Culos is the tire carrier and Vickers the tire changer.

Former Patriot safety Tony George, appears and we are willing to trade anyone on the team for him. I think the’s guys would trade their mother to get him on the team. We take him, and he’s not only strong and fast, he’s motivated.

We get through the first round and some of the guys on the team are only slightly winded. Not Waltrip, he’s a machine.

You did a good job, you didn’t hit the brake,” Vickers told me after the first round. Phil Parsons also gives me a high five, “Good job driving,” he said.

Waltrip pulled us into a team meeting after we moved ahead through the first round and changed positions on the team to set us up for an even faster round. This was not his first rodeo and he was in it to win it.

“Ray (Dunlap) went to feed the meter -are you kidding me?,” Allen jokes while Waltrip is giving a pep talk and reorganizing. Everyone does what Waltrip says and his team meeting was a key to the win.

By the time we got to the finals I asked Tony George if he had any Patriots motivational words for us, “Absolutely, we can’t talk about it we have to BE about it,:” he says. Nice. ” It’s time to go and GET IT now.” Why do I start to think if I mess up I might get thrown into that darn brick wall.

“You got anything left?,” I ask Dunlap, before our last and championship round. “I am about out,” he says. ” I wake boarded yesterday on Lake Norman and I’ve got muscles that I didn’t know I had. But guess what, we are in it to win it THAT’S WHAT WE CAME FOR,” Dunlap yells at the top of his lungs. Dunlap is more focused than ever now that there is money in the meter which is running. The guys are tired so I decide on the last round I’ll pull out the secret weapon. I will yell and scream at the top of my lungs at them to go faster as they run. It can’t hurt right. I am the driver, that is my job. If they get mad at me they will push harder.

I position myself back in the car with a quick prayer that I not mess things up. “DO NOT BRAKE, DO NOT BRAKE.” Braking with a concrete wall coming at you is the natural tendency. The wheel is a little askew to the side since the guy who put it in was someone just standing by- not the official that did it the first few times. I was straining to keep up in the seat since the brake pedal was where I could not reach it and sit back in the seat. I had to pull up on the wheel while steering to where I could be in position to hit the brake when it was time. Bless Brian Vickers heart, he screamed “brake,” each time to me when it was time to slam on it…. and I swear until he said it, I was not going to brake..

The last heat, I was literally screaming to the guys pushing the car, “Last round guys, faster, faster, faster, get it get it get it.” I was screaming really loud figuring it would be worth a tenth of a second if I was egging the guys on. It hits me that I am yelling at Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip. Steer, yell, brake. Towards the end of the final round it was hard to keep up in the seat…..but I would have rather have walked through fire, or hit that dang concrete wall, than brake and let the team down.

Can you believe it – we won. I didn’t do much…and can’t take any of the credit. These guys were serious. It was fun…..I laughed so hard busting the chops of the team – and it was a good afternoon out before two weeks of covering events all over town for the Sprint Cup All Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600.

Plus, we won.

That is the first (and likely last ) time I will ever be in Victory Lane with Michael Waltrip and Brian Vickers and I am holding the trophy as the driver. LOL.

I think I’ll keep my day job.

Congratulations team! We did it.

Claire B

P.S. Speaking of my day job, My show, “Dialed In” will be LIVE at the Sprint Cup All Star PIt Crew Challenge from 7-10 EST tonight. The real event will match the best in the business on pit road against each other. It’s one of my favorite events and I’m excited to be able to help bring it to you LIVE on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio channel 128.

Here’s my broadcast schedule for the week:

“Dialed In” LIVE at the Sprint Cup All Star Pit Crew Challenge, tonight (Thursday May 14,) 7-10 EST

(Friday, May 15) – covering all events at LMS and no “Dialed In” as Qualifying and Truck Racing take up the schedule. Friday morning I will be at the DEI fan celebration on the DEI grounds from 9-11 covering the event.

Saturday(May 16) “Dialed In” from 2-3:45 p.m. EST – then the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio pre race show followed by LIVE post race coverage at which time I will be stationed LIVE in Victory Lane.

Sunday (May 17) “Dialed In” 11-2 p.m. EST post coverage of the Sprint Cup All Star Race!

Enjoy the Day!2009 MediaPitCrewChallenge

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