No. 11 Team Pit Crew Champs

55587Jpg
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 11 team is so good, it's even winning when Denny Hamlin's girlfriend is driving the car.

With Hamlin's girlfriend, Jordan Fish, steering the car and Hamlin cheering outside of it, the JGR pit crew won the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge on Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

In winning the event, the JGR team got a bit of revenge from last year, when it lost to eventual champion Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 team.

This year, the two teams met in the finals and Hamlin's team beat Jeff Burton's crew to the finish line by 0.442 seconds.

"I was as nervous as I've ever been," Hamlin said. "I wanted it so bad for these guys. I wanted them to enjoy their success. I always get all the credit when we win, and this night was about them and it showed how steady and good that they are."

The competition is different than a normal pit stop. The crews start at four separate stations—jackman, front-tire carrier and changer, the rear-tire carrier and changer, and the gasman and catch-can man—where the crewmen do their normal duties and then have to run to one end of the arena and collectively push their car across the arena floor to the finish line.

Since the teams push the car across the arena floor, it's best to have a petite person steering. So Hamlin's girlfriend got that job and the rest of the JGR crew—gas man Scott Wood, catch-can man John Eicher, front-tire changer Mike Hicks, front-tire carrier Brandon Pegram, rear-tire changer Jon Sherman, rear-tire carrier Heath Cherry and jackman Nate Bolling—did their job better than the rest.

Two years ago, Hamlin had been critical of his pit crew, and some changes were made the week of the crew challenge.

"It's like a family," Cherry said. "Over the last two years, we've gotten stronger and stronger, more confident and more consistent. We take a lot of pride in what we do. We take pride when we advance Denny's position on pit road.

"We have a good group that works well together and is just a team. We keep that consistency. No one is bigger than the other."

By winning the pit crew challenge, Hamlin's team will get the first choice of pit selection for the Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin and crew chief Mike Ford agreed they would take the pit closest to the end of pit road. Drivers will be required to make a pit stop just prior to the final 10-lap segment of the all-star race.

"It's very critical to get off pit road quickly," Ford said. "You're going to need track position in that 10-lap shootout. … That No. 1 pit stall, if we've got to make up a couple of spots, is going to help us out."

The event also crowned the top individuals in their specialties. The winners of the individual awards were Bolling (jackman); Nick Odell (front tire changer) and Brad Donaghy (front tire carrier) from Kyle Busch's JGR pit crew; RCR's Dustin Necaise (rear tire changer) and Matt Kreuter (rear tire carrier) from Clint Bowyer's crew; and Hendrick Motorsports' Brad Pickens (gas man) and Travis Gordon (catch can) from Mark Martin's crew.

It wasn't a surprise that the top jack man—Bolling—was on the winning team as the jackman often is first to the car to give it a push.

"You have to be fast and you have to be strong to be a jackman in this competition and you have to be fast and you have to be strong to be a jackman on pit road," said Bolding, a former Wake Forest University football player. "It all goes hand in hand."

Odell has won the individual title three times.

"I was tickled to death when I won one," Odell said. "To win three is unbelievable to me."

Photos

  • From the Archives: Dover
  • From the Archives: Dover
  • From the Archives: Dover
  • From the Archives: Dover
  • From the Archives: Dover
  • From the Archives: Dover
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • Coca-Cola 600
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • From the Archives: Charlotte
  • Sprint All-Star Race
  • Sprint All-Star Race
  • Sprint All-Star Race
  • Sprint All-Star Race
  • Sprint All-Star Race
  • Sprint All-Star Race

Advertisement

You may unsubscribe at any time.
Motor Racing Network
555 MRN Drive
Concord, NC 28027
www.mrn.com/Footer/Contact-Us.aspx
(704)262-6700
feedback@mrn.com
  • © 2015 MRN. All Rights Reserved

    FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

    ISC Track Sites