Crew Chief Race Added To All-Star Lineup

The top crew chiefs in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing will trade their wrenches for driving suits during the inaugural Kobalt Tools Crew Chief Race Saturday night, May 19, at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The event will be the featured pre-race entertainment for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

Utilizing Thunder Roadsters manufactured by 600 Racing and decaled to replicate the paint schemes of the NEXTEL Cup cars they oversee, the crew chiefs will compete in a 30-minute racing program that will include two qualifying heats and a feature race. The racing action will take place on the speedway's quarter-mile oval, located on the frontstretch of the 1.5-mile superspeedway, and will be televised by SPEED Channel.

"SPEED is really looking forward to covering the crew chiefs' race," said Hunter Nickell, SPEED's executive vice president and general manager.

"In fact, the race will be featured live as part of 'NASCAR RaceDay All-Star Edition' leading into the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. We realize that some of the competitors host SPEED programs, but we assure fans we will be totally impartial . OK, mostly impartial."

"These guys are all closet racers," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "And they think they would be good drivers. Now they can show just how good (or bad) they really are.

"Mainly, it will be a lot of fun and we need more of that in our sport." Expected participants include: Alan Gustafson, Kellogg's/Hendrick Motorsports No. 5; Billy Wilburn, Coca-Cola/Petty Racing No. 45; Chad Knaus, Lowe's/Hendrick Motorsports No. 48; Darian Grubb, National Guard/Hendrick Motorsports No. 25; Gil Martin, Jack Daniel's/Richard Childress Racing No.

07; Jeff Hammond, SPEED Channel No. 11; Jimmy Elledge, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 41; Kevin "Bono" Manion, Bass Pro Shops/Dale Earnhardt, Inc. No. 1; Larry McReynolds, SPEED Channel No. 28; Paul Andrews, Cheerio's/Petty Racing No. 43; Scott Miller, Cingular/Richard Childress Racing No. 31; Steve Lane, Coors Light/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 40; Steve Letarte, DuPont/Hendrick Motorsports No. 24; Todd Berrier, Shell-Pennzoil/Richard Childress Racing No. 29; Tony Eury Jr., Budweiser/Dale Earnhardt, Inc. No. 8.

"This is a very neat deal," said former crew chief McReynolds, who now serves as a popular analyst for NASCAR on Fox and SPEED. "With everything going on, from the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge to Saturday night's big race, All-Star week is a very intense few days, even with no points on the line. Crew Chiefs today get a lot of accolades and share in the spotlight, but this event will give them the unique opportunity to say 'Hey, I'm the best driving crew chief in NASCAR.'

"There will be a lot of smack talked in the garage area before and after this event," McReynolds continued. "It's about bragging rights. It's like the Masters; those cats just want that green jacket. This is a great addition to NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Week activities."

"NASCAR RaceDay All-Star Edition," which includes live coverage of the Kobalt Tools Crew Chief Race, will begin at 4 p.m. (EDT) and will be on the air for three hours leading up to coverage of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

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