Teams Ready For Challenge

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - NASCAR is gearing up for All-Star week, and it officially kicks off Wednesday night at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena where 24 teams will do battle in the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge.

The No. 1 Bass Pro Shops team head into the third annual event as the defending winners. Last year, they kicked off the night by setting the best time of 25.29 seconds in round one. Competing with the special black Dale Earnhardt tribute paint scheme, the No. 1 team made it through three additional rounds where they beat the 2005 winners of Kasey Kahne's No. 9 team in the finals for the $70,100 prize.

Kevin Manion, crew chief of the No. 1 Chevrolet, says his guys will once again be the ones to watch.

"I believe their practice went well down there," Manion said. "I think they are holding the unofficial practice time to beat, so that's a positive thought."

Along with watching out for time penalties, one of the keys to victory tonight will be the team coming together to push the car to the finish line.

"The push is definitely part of it," Manion said. "What's so cool about this way that NEXTEL has set this up, you have individual stations where the guys can shine individually. And a lot of the gas guys are these huge, huge guys that can lift this big can up, but they might be good pushers and they might not be good runners.

"So you need – our jack man, I put him up against anyone. He can push the car by himself I think and he's like the anchorman. He's the first one to the car. He gets the ball rolling and that's the hardest thing to get it rolling. Once you get it rolling, you just keep adding people on and it will go, but the pushing is definitely important."

A win in the Pit Crew Challenge will also carry over into Saturday night's All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway as the teams will pick their pit stalls based on their respective finishes tonight.

The top eight teams in the owner standings will have an advantage from the start as they will receive a bye into the second round. They will still have to compete in the seeding round, which is new this year, to determine their ranking for the rest of the competition.

Round three will see another new edge of the competition when the highest remaining seeded team begins by selecting – or "calling out" – its choice of opponent.

Individual titles and a $10,000 prize are awarded to each pit crew member that scores the best time for their respective position throughout the seeding and first round.

The defending individual winners for each position are - Jackman: Jeff Kerr (No. 1 Team); Catch Can: Brian Larson (No. 20 team); Gas Man: Jeff Paterson (No. 20 Team); Front Tire Changer: Jason Pulver (No. 29 Team); Front Tire Carrier: Josh Mick (No. 29 Team); Rear Tire Changer: Kyle Turner (No. 9 Team); Rear Tire Carrier: Don Marvel (No. 9 Team).

Tonight's Pit Crew Challenge will begin at 7:15 p.m. (ET). RacingOne will be courtside for all the action and will bring you the complete results following the event.

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