Kansas City: Pemberton closes on record

Jasper Motorsports Protection One 400 (Kansas Speedway--400.5 Miles/267 Laps) 2002 Nascar Winston Cup Series (Race ...

Jasper Motorsports
Protection One 400 (Kansas Speedway--400.5 Miles/267 Laps)
2002 Nascar Winston Cup Series (Race #29 Of 36)

----Entering this weekend race in Kansas City, CREW CHIEF RYAN PEMBERTON needs only $123,643 to become the THIRD-YOUNGEST CREW CHIEF IN NASCAR WINSTON CUP HISTORY TO REACH THE $10 MILLION MARK IN EARNINGS. Pemberton, 33 years, three months old, will trail only James Ince, who reached the mark at age 31, seven months this June at Sears Point (in 182 career starts), and Frank Stoddard, who reached the mark at age 31, eleven months with a second-place finish at Texas in April, 2000. Stoddard reached the mark faster than any WC crew chief (74 races) with driver Jeff Burton--faster even than current WC owner Ray Evernham (124 races with Jeff Gordon in 1996) --and was also the youngest to $20 million (Dover-1, June, 2002-150 races)

----For perspective, PEMBERTON began his WC career (at age 28) as a crew chief 196 races ago with driver Derrike Cope (1997), the first of eight drivers he has worked with over five-plus seasons with the #36 MB2 and #77 Jasper Motorsports teams. Ince, now Crew Chief of the #10 MB2 Pontiac for driver Johnny Benson, started his WC career in 1996 (at age 26) with Ted Musgrave at Roush Racing. Until being released three weeks ago, Stoddard had been with Burton since the start of the 1999 season, his first (at age 31) full-time WC crew chief position.

----With the current wave of younger crew chiefs benefiting from healthier weekly payouts than were available to their predecessors, the sport has featured it's prodigies in leadership roles, including Doug Richert, who began his first season (1980) as crew chief at age 19, and ended it with a WC championship with the late Dale Earnhardt. Tim Brewer was even younger (18) when he took over the independent operation for then-driver Richard Childress in 1973. Current Fox TV analysts Jeff Hammond (age 25, with Darrell Waltrip in 1982) and Larry McReynolds (age 27, with Joe Ruttman in 1986) were among the youngest crew chiefs to thrive through the 1980's while Robbie Loomis, currently leading the #24 Hendrick team for Jeff Gordon, began his WC career at age 27 with Richard Petty, in his next-to-last season (1991) as a driver. None of the above reached the $10 million mark in earnings before age 36, Loomis being the youngest (at 36 in 2000).

----Among his younger contemporaries, PEMBERTON will reach the mark quicker than Robert Yates Racing Crew Chiefs Todd Parrott and Michael McSwain and Tommy Baldwin, Jr. (Bill Davis Racing), each of whom started their WC careers at age 30 and reached the $10 million mark at age 34. PEMBERTON will also achieve the first significant earnings watermark quicker than older brother Robin Pemberton, now General Manager at Petty Enterprises, who began his crew-chief career (at age 29 with Bobby Allison-1985) and eclipsed $10 million with Rusty Wallace (1996).

----BLANEY on prospects for Kansas City, progress and prognosis for future with Pemberton--"Kansas City is one of those type tracks where I seem to have adapted more quickly since moving up to Winston Cup three years ago, and we're pretty hopeful for this weekend, because both myself (tenth) and the #77 (seventh) had good finishes there last fall. These are also the sort of tracks where our Penske-Jasper Engines seem to really shine. We've tested twice at Kentucky Speedway in the last two weeks, and think we've found some things that will help our programs for the tracks like Kansas and Charlotte--the next two races.

"Last week at Dover is a good example of what sort of progress we're making. We really worked well together as a group and found a solution to some of our problems with the car at the time we needed most, in the final 75 miles. Ryan and the guys stuck with me when I was struggling early and got the car so much better at the end of the race, that we were probably one of the fastest cars at the finish.

"Sometimes I forget that Ryan's still as young as he is, because he's been in the sport at a pretty high level for 15 years already. We're moving in the right direction as a group, and we just want to keep up the solid finishes and move forward in the points like we've been doing over the last month."

* DAVE BLANEY and the #77 Jasper Engines & Transmissions Ford team enter the Protection One 400 at Kansas Speedway ranked 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings, 71 points behind Bobby Labonte (18th) and 102 points behind Jeff Green (17th); in the inaugural WC race at Kansas last September, BLANEY started 21st (30.943 secs.) and finished tenth, three positions behind the #77 Jasper Ford (Robert Pressley), who started 37th (31.262 secs.) with the first provisional starting spot in the field; both drivers finished in the lead-lap behind race-winner Jeff Gordon.

* BLANEY's season-best qualifying effort is third (Richmond 2), matching his WC career-best at Atlanta (11/01); his ninth-place finish at Richmond three weeks ago was his third top-ten of 2002, matching his season-best at California; his career-best WC finish is sixth (Texas, Michigan 2, Miami-- 2001); he finished 11th in the MBNA All-American Heroes 400 last weekend at Dover (career-best at Dover), after starting 14th.

* After 28 races in the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, BLANEY RANKS FIRST IN LAPS COMPLETED (8,055 of 8,186/98.4%) AND RANKS THIRD IN MILES COMPLETED (10,746.474 of 10,904.64/98.5%), trailing only Jimmie Johnson (99.1%--by 63.267 miles) and Bill Elliott (98.6%--by 35.201 miles); Rusty Wallace is the second Penske-Jasper Engine entry in the top-five in both categories, ranking fifth in laps-completed and miles-completed.

* Rusty Wallace leads the three PENSKE-JASPER ENGINE entries in the 2002 Winston Cup standings in sixth-place (3,522 points--4 top-fives, 13 top-tens), 198 points behind leader Mark Martin; Ryan Newman (3,495 points) ranks seventh (a WC Series-leading 13 top-fives and 17 top-tens, including his win at NHIS 2); BLANEY and the #77 Jasper team rank 19th in the WC owners points (2,855 points); BLANEY ranked 25th entering the 29th-race of the 2001 season (at Charlotte) in the #93 BDR Dodge.

-jm-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Jeff Green , Ryan Newman , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Jimmie Johnson , Joe Ruttman , Tim Brewer , Ray Evernham , Robert Yates , Robbie Loomis , Tommy Baldwin , Mark Martin
Teams Bill Davis Racing , Yates Racing