CHAMPCAR/CART: Pit Crew Challenge to draw wild card at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. It's like starting 28 Champ cars all on the front row. What they have done so far this season doesn't count every team in the CART FedEx Championship Series has an equal chance to grab the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge...

BROOKLYN, Mich. It's like starting 28 Champ cars all on the front row. What they have done so far this season doesn't count every team in the CART FedEx Championship Series has an equal chance to grab the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge wild card entry at Michigan International Speedway July 22.

The pit crew that performs the best at MIS is guaranteed a slot in the season-ending Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge shootout at California Speedway, where a head-to-head competition among the four top teams in CPCC points plus the wild card entry from Michigan will decide the top pit crew in CART.

The Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge, begun in 1999 by Craftsman tools, the Official Tools of CART, is a chance for the vital pit crews that support the drivers to demonstrate their prowess and receive recognition.

In each race during the season, points are scored according to the total elapsed time the car spends in the pits, using a scoring system based on the CART championship tabulation. Less time in the pits means more points.

At the end of the year, five teams will compete in the winner-take-all shootout when Craftsman will award a custom Waterford Crystal trophy and $50,000 in cash to the victors.

Leading the 2001 Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge points as of July 17 is Marlboro Team Penske No. 3 (driver Helio Castroneves), which has scored CPCC points in six of nine races, but that team is closely pursued by Newman/Haas Racing No. 6 (Cristiano da Matta) and Patrick Racing No. 40 (Jimmy Vasser). Patrick Racing No. 40 scored the most CPCC points in 2001. PacWest Racing Group No. 18 (Scott Dixon) rounds out the top four currently eligible for the shootout.

Two teams, in particular, hope to do well in the wild card race. Player's Forsythe Racing No. 32 and driver Patrick Carpentier won the 2000 CPCC wild card at MIS on the way to a fourth-place finish in the race. That team may need to repeat last year's effort; Player's Forsythe No. 32 has scored CPCC points in only two events and stands 17th in Craftsman points after nine races.

Standing 19th in points, Team Kool Green No. 26 might need to secure its spot in the 2001 Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge finals by winning at Michigan. Otherwise, only with a huge effort and prodigious luck could the defending champions of the 1999 and 2000 Challenges garner sufficient points to appear in the third annual shootout.

While the crack pit crews of the CART FedEx Challenge Series put forth total effort during every pit stop in every race, after the wild card weekend at the Michigan 500, one team will spend the rest of the year knowing it is locked in for the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge. That group will just have to wait until the end of the season to see who they face in the contest to decide the best Champ car pit crew in the world.

Craftsman serves as the Official Tools of CART, and has sponsored the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge since 1999.

-BCPR

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Scott Dixon , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske