CHAMPCAR/CART: Craftsman Pit Crew Champions Fontana preview

Craftsman Pit Crew Champions To Be Decided In California FONTANA, Calif. Which team in the CART FedEx Championship Series has the best pit crew? That will be answered on Saturday, Nov. 3, during the championship shootout of the Craftsman Pit...

Craftsman Pit Crew Champions To Be Decided In California

FONTANA, Calif. Which team in the CART FedEx Championship Series has the best pit crew?

That will be answered on Saturday, Nov. 3, during the championship shootout of the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge at Fontana's California Speedway.

For the third consecutive year, the Sears Craftsman tool brand will recognize and reward the pit crews of teams in CART. Craftsman will present the prestigious Pit Crew Challenge trophy and a $50,000 cash prize to the pit crew that emerges victorious.

"The Pit Crew Challenge allows Craftsman, the nation's most popular brand of mechanics' tools, to feature the work of some of the best mechanics in the world, the people who service the cars in the CART FedEx Championship," said John Lebbad, Sears director of event marketing and sales promotion.

Five teams will compete for top honors in the Craftsman Championship shootout, a winner-take-all race to see which can complete a pit stop in the least amount of time. In the contest, scheduled on the eve of the CART season finale Marlboro 500, the driver will circle the track, enter the pits for a four-tire change and simulated refueling, then return to the track using standard CART pit stop rules. Each team will be able to make several stops within a designated time period. The team with the fastest stop and no penalties wins.

Four of the teams qualify based on their pit stop performance during the Champ Car season. Using CART's official timing system, the total amount of time each team spends on pit road during each race is recorded. Points are then awarded using the same formula that determines the series championship; less time in the pits means more points.

With only one qualifying race to go, the top points holders in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge are Marlboro Team Penske No. 1 with driver Gil de Ferran, Marlboro Team Penske No. 3 (Helio Castroneves), Sigma Autosport No. 22 (Oriol Servia) and Shell Team Rahal No. 8 (Kenny Brack).

The two Penske teams have enough points to assure their slots in the shootout; the pit crews of Servia and Brack have comfortable leads on the runners-up, but need to continue with top performances to make it to the finals.

The fifth team in the shootout will be PacWest Racing No. 17 with driver Mauricio Gugelmin. PacWest No. 17 assured itself a spot in the shootout by turning in the best pit performance at the 2001 Michigan 500, designated a "wild card" event in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge.

So far, the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge competition has demonstrated the correlation between the crew's proficiency in the pits and success on the track. After 18 of 20 races on the 2001 Champ Car schedule, the three top points-holders in the championship chase (de Ferran, Brack and Castroneves) are supported by teams leading the Craftsman competition.

However, a team's season-long performance and accumulated points will mean little at the Craftsman shootout: each of the five qualifying teams starts with a clean slate and an even chance to demonstrate that they are the best in the business.

After a long season of preparation and qualifying, the best pit crew in CART will be determined in only a few seconds. And a few seconds later, that crew will enjoy the trophy, financial reward and prestige of the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge champions.

The Craftsman Pit Crew Championship shootout will start at 4 p.m.

Craftsman is the Official Tools of CART. Sears sells more than 1,800 Craftsman hand tools, all made in America and guaranteed forever. Sears offers Craftsman tools, merchandise and related services through Sears full-line department stores and specialized retail locations including Sears Hardware, Sears dealer stores and Orchard Supply Hardware Stores, as well as through specialty catalogs and online at www.sears.com.

-CM-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Mauricio Gugelmin , Oriol Servia , Kenny Brack
Teams Team Penske