Friday, May 18, 2012

No. 48 team reigns supreme

The No. 48 MyLowes team went wild on stage after winning the 2012 Pit Crew Challenge.
Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR

The No. 48 team has done it again, they have dethroned another champion. This time it's not Jimmie Johnson in the limelight, but instead his crew, the focus of last evening's Pit Crew Challenge at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. Johnson's only role: cheerleader and now the holder of the credit card for the victory celebration.

The No 48 team is impressive week in and week out under the leadership of crew chief Chad Knaus, but training for the challenge is a whole other pit stop. Teams work for weeks, training on their maneuvers for their specific event and the additional factor of the 40-yard push.

This event is unique compared to a standard pit stop where the team works together. At the pit crew challenge, each member competes on a car specifically doing their job, then rushing to push their team car in the dash to the finish line.

The No. 48 team, led by coach Greg Morin, won with a time of 22.239 seconds and had steadily increased their speed all evening, starting the first round with a 23-second run.

The team:

TJ Ford - Jack Man
Brandon Harder - Gas Man
Dave Collins - Front Tire Changer
RJ Barnette - Front Tire Carrier
Calvin Teague - Rear Tire Changer
Matt Tyrrell - Rear Tire Carrier

After the competition, Johnson and his team joined the media for questions.

RJ Barnette spoke on the rematch of the 48 and 11 teams from the 2011 pit crew challenge. "When it came down to us and the 11 team, there was no way they were going to beat us. We've came too far, we've grew together as a team. It's an amazing group of guys who sacrifice everything when we are together. It's a real honor to be up here."

TJ Ford chimed in, "Coach Morin sent us a picture of the finish from last year. It was the 11 car beating us by a couple strides. He said if this wasn't enough, I don't know what is. I know for the last couple weeks, that has been replaying through my mind and these guys up here, that was some pretty good motivation."

That was the motivation the No. 48 crew needed to keep the No. 11 team from pulling off the three-peat.  The team also is awarded their choice of pit stalls for Saturday's All-Star Race.

The event brought out not only the crews, but the drivers to support their teams; spotted were Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and many more. Drivers cheered on their teams from a different view for one night, having no say on the outcome of the event although Brad Keselowski and David Ragan did steer their rides during the push.

Penalties plagued many top teams as the the pressure of the event focused solely on their performance weighed heavily.

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