Alltel Team Pit Crew Champs

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Ryan Newman’s No. 12 Alltel team continued their recent hot streak with a win in the third annual NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge on Wednesday night at the Charlotte Bobcats arena.

The same team that has helped Newman score three consecutive top-10 finishes defeated the teams of drivers Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Kyle Busch and Bobby Labonte en route to the $70,300 prize.

Crew chief Mike Nelson led his team to an exciting win over the No. 43 Cheerios team in a penalty free final by a margin of .33 seconds.

"This is pretty awesome,” Nelson said. "I inherited a great group of guys. We made some small changes this year and we were really able to pick our game up."

The team came together when it counted as they were able to give the No. 12 Alltel Dodge one final strong push across the finish line, even after jackman Britt Goodrich had trouble getting the right side of the car lifted up when the round went green.

"I missed the jack stop so I had to reset it in the jacket so I was a little bit behind Tony (Martin - No. 43 Jackman) running down there," Goodrich said. Fortunately, George (Whitley) and Brian (White) got there. I was getting the car rolling, but they were getting it going."

The No. 12 team consisting of Nelson (Crew Chief), Ben Brown (Front Tire Changer), Scott Reiniger (Front Tire Carrier), Joe Piette Jr. (Rear Tire Changer); Trent Cherry (Rear Tire Carrier), George Whitley (Gas Man), Brian White (Catch Can) and Goodrich capped off the night with a large champagne bath celebration in victory lane.

Jackman Mitch Lash (No. 44 UPS Team), Gas Man Jeff Patterson (No. 20 Home Depot Team), Catch Can man Brian Larson (No. 20 Team), Front Tire Changer Nick O'Dell (No. 9 UAW/Dodge Dealers Team), Front Tire Carrier Jason Gray (No. 9 Team), Rear Tire Changer Daniel Rankin (No. 43 Cheerios Team) and Rear Tire Carrier Bryan Rockwell (No. 43 Team) took home the individual $10,000 awards for their best respective times in the seeding round and first round.

Lash eclipsed the 2005 jackman record of 6.43 seconds set by Jeff Kerr (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Team) with a lightning quick performance of 5.94 seconds. Rankin and Rockwell also broke the 2005 rear tire record with a 13.85 second run. Patterson and Larson were the only individuals to repeat their 2006 wins.

Many 3-second penalties for lugnuts and 5-second penalties for fuel spillage were handed out throughout the event, which were costly for some that included the teams of Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The No. 1 Bass Pro Shops team, the defending champions, exited in the first round after receiving a 3-second penalty for a lugnut when they went up against the No. 07 Jack Daniels team.

Tonight also saw the debut of new positions for the No. 11 team, who lost in the "Call Out" round, after Denny Hamlin was critical about the pit stops this year.

Numerous drivers were on hand to cheer their respective teams on that included Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Martin Truex Jr., Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler, Dale Jarrett and Regan Smith. Even some, like Kyle and Kurt Busch, opted to steer the car in the competition.

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