Cup crew members have their night
By Tim Packman

CONCORD, N.C. (Dec. 11, 2000) Two days after the NASCAR Winston Cup Series honored its top drivers for their accomplishments this year, the circuit's crew members gathered for a fete of their own.

The Crew Chief Club held a reception Sunday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway to honor NASCAR Winston Cup Series team members for a job well done. The Chase Racing All-Stars Awards was held at the track's Speedway Club.

A panel of judges consisting of members of the media, public relations representatives and retired NASCAR drivers monitored pit stops each week at races and determined the top member in each of 12 positions. The field was then narrowed to recognize the top-3 crewmen for their performance, leadership, teamwork and dedication in each of their respective categories.

Jimmy Makar, Larry McReynolds, Todd Parrott and Robin Pemberton formed the Crew Chief Club in 1998 to increase awareness and recognition for crew members of NWCS teams. The club has grown to include Tommy Baldwin, Jimmy Elledge, Ryan Pemberton and Greg Zippadelli.

Makar said the event is a great way to recognize crew members for their dedication.

"The guys who go over the wall on a pit stop and especially the guys work in the shop, such as the fabricators and mechanics, never seem to get enough credit," said Makar, leader of the championship No. 18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac team. "This event is a special way for them to get recognized."

The top-3 in each category received a trophy for being a finalist. The crew member voted as the best at his position also received a ring with a pit stop scene and ruby gemstone on it.

First-team members were:

Driver - Bobby Labonte, No.18 car, Joe Gibbs Racing

Crew chief - Jimmy Makar, No.18 car

Jack man - Earl Barban, No. 2 car, Penske Racing

Engine specialist - Doug Yates, No. 88 car, Robert Yates Racing

Front tire changer - Billy Wilburn, No. 2 car

Front tire carrier - 21Darren Jolly, No. 88 car

Rear tire changer - Barry Cook, No. 18 car

Rear tire carrier - Scott Hewitt, No. 18 car

Gas man - Norman Koshimizu, No. 28 car, Robert Yates Racing

Catch can - Derick Jennings, No. 18 team

Chief mechanic - Charles "Butch" Hylton, No. 18 car

Fabricator - Kevin Stimberis, No. 88 car

Benny Parsons, one of the panelists selecting the winners, said the decision process was very tough.

"In all honesty, half of the guys on pit road deserve to be on the all-star team," said the NBC Sports analyst and retired driver. "You have to take the whole team into consideration and look at the their stop when making a selection. The top teams almost always throw up those good numbers on their stops. So, that's where most of the all-stars come from."

Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing-owned Ford, was on hand to support his crew members. He said the recognition is well deserved for the hard working crewmen.

"These guys are the ones that make the sacrifices, do the incredible jobs in the shop and on the pit stops," said the 1999 circuit champion. "This is something our sport needs to do, to recognize the incredible job these guys do."

The 2001 NASCAR season will be doing just that, too. Starting next season, all race day crew members will be wearing uniforms with their names across the back.