Annual Pit Crew Challenge preview

NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge: It's All About the Teams Twenty-four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pit crews compete for team, individual honors Third annual competition kicks off NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge week DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May...

NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge: It's All About the Teams
Twenty-four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series pit crews compete for team, individual honors

Third annual competition kicks off NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge week

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 14, 2007) -- Far more than mere prelude, the third annual NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman shines a worthy spotlight on some of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' most important participants -- team crew members.

On Wednesday, May 16, 24 pit crews will battle for team and individual position titles at Charlotte Bobcats Arena. It's the third consecutive pit crew competition, which spotlights often-unsung personnel.

"You can't win a championship without a team effort," said crew chief Robbie Reiser, whose driver, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford), won the 2003 series title and the 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. "And it takes everybody throughout the year to do that. And not only all of the work they do in the shop but the work they do over the wall is a key ingredient to making that all happen."

This year, crews' work will play a role in Saturday night's 23rd annual NASCAR NEXTEL Cup All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Teams will pick their pits for the event based on the finishing order of Wednesday's Challenge.

A quick reminder: Seven team members are allowed "over the wall" to service a car on pit road. On Wednesday, this year's 24 eligible pit crews will compete for a grand prize of $70,300. Each individual position champion will receive a $10,000 prize.

Martin Truex Jr.'s No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet pit crew is the defending champion.

"It's just a great weekend for motorsports in general here," said Kevin Manion, crew chief for the No. 1 team. "Being based out of Charlotte, the guys, a lot of their families can come out and see them perform."

This year's NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge features two significant format changes -- the addition of a seeding round and a "call-out" round.

Following is the order of competition:

* Seeding round: New this year, all participating teams are seeded based on the series' car owner standings as of May 13. The top eight teams receive a bye into the second round. They also will compete in the seeding round to determine their ranking for the rest of the competition, with the top seed posting the fastest overall time. Thus, the top seed could receive a lower seed, and vice-versa.

* Round One: Teams seeded No. 9-24 -- again, according to series car owner standings -- compete here. They also retain their seeding for the rest of competition. The fastest front-tire carrier, front-tire changer, rear-tire changer, rear-tire carrier, jack man, gas man and catch-can man in both seeding- and first-round competition will win individual titles.

* Round Two: The eight teams who prevailed in round-one competition advance here, where they'll face the top eight-seeded teams. Eight teams advance to the next round.

* Round Three: This is the NEXTEL "call-out" round, the second new facet of competition. The highest remaining seeded team begins by selecting -- or "calling out" -- its choice of opponent. The next highest-seeded remaining team then "calls out" its opponent, and so on. All eight teams compete once in this round.

* Round Four: The final four teams advance here, with two winners advancing.

* Championship Round: The winning team is crowned the 2007 champion.

The Lineup ...

Eligible pit crews include those from teams qualified for the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge -- all 2006 event winners and any additional winners through May 13, 2007. Also eligible are winners of former NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenges (Martin Truex Jr.'s team), former series champions from the past 10 years and former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup All-Star Challenge champions from the past 10 years.

Any remaining positions go to the highest-ranked teams in the car owner standings who aren't otherwise eligible for Saturday's all-star event. This year, those are the pit crews for Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet), Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford), Jamie McMurray (No. 26 Crown Royal Ford), Elliott Sadler (No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) and J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet).

Eligible pit crews from 2006 and to-date '07 event-winning teams include those of Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard Ford), Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford), Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge), Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet), Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevolet), Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) and Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota).

Other eligible pit crews are those from the teams of 1999 series champion Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota), 2000 series champion Bobby Labonte (No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge), 2002 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge winner Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge), and 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge winner Mark Martin (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet).

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge Presented by Craftsman.
Where: Charlotte Bobcats Arena, Charlotte, N.C.

How: Tickets are $15; all seats are general admission.

Prize Money: $70,300 to the winning team; $10,000 to each pit-crew position champion.

When: Wednesday, May 16.
Time: 7 p.m. (ET)

Who: The pit crews of Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Dale Jarrett, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers and J.J. Yeley.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Elliott Sadler , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin