Back-to-back wins: no. 20 Crew Chief Greg Zipadelli takes home IRWIN Crew Chief of the Week honors. VERNON HILLS, Ill., November 8, 2002 - For the second consecutive week, No. 20 crew chief Greg Zipadelli zipped up the IRWIN "Rough to...
Back-to-back wins: no. 20 Crew Chief Greg Zipadelli takes home IRWIN Crew Chief of the Week honors.
VERNON HILLS, Ill., November 8, 2002 - For the second consecutive week, No. 20 crew chief Greg Zipadelli zipped up the IRWIN "Rough to the Finish" award for his performances at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and at Rockingham, N.C.
At the Oct. 27 race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, quick thinking by Zipadelli helped driver Tony Stewart to a fourth-place finish in the rain-shortened race. As rain continued to fall in the beginning of the race, NASCAR was forced to put out the red flag on lap 26, halting the racing action for nearly two-and-a-half hours.
As drivers began to return to the track from pit road, they did so under caution, with the next 19 laps being run behind the pace car to further dry portions of the track. During that time, Zipadelli called for Stewart to pit, forfeiting track position for security. As tire pressures were being checked shortly before the red flag was lifted, two loose lugnuts were discovered on the left front wheel. Taking no chances, Zipadelli made the call to come to pit road and take four fresh tires. When the race restarted on lap 46, Stewart was stuck in 27th position.
But the preventive move by Zipadelli averted a potential disaster for the No. 20 team. The move kept Stewart's car performing so he could catch the pack and finish in the top five.
The next week's race in Rockingham was a different story, however.
At the track known as The Rock, Stewart experienced a rocky ride as he had trouble with the car's handling all day long. A caution on lap 23 gave The Home Depot team the opportunity to come to pit road and make adjustments, where Zipadelli's crew raised the track bar, removed a round of wedge and adjusted the air pressure in the right front tire. Stewart reported the car was still too tight and by lap 93, the team found themselves in unfamiliar territory, going one lap down to race leader Mark Martin.
More changes were made on the second stop of the day, as Stewart continued to battle a tight race car. But the changes put Stewart on the other end of the handling spectrum, with the orange car tracking too loose through the corners. By lap 140, Stewart was 30th. He then lost five more spots before pitting on lap 174. Crew members put a round of wedge in the left rear corner of The Home Depot Pontiac and dropped the track bar one round in an effort to offset the loose handling condition. But the changes only returned the car to being too tight.
Zipadelli continued to persevere, relaying words of encouragement over the radio to Stewart as he battled the car. Three more pit stops finally put the No. 20 car on the right track. Stewart cracked the top 30 by lap 240, and twenty laps later, broke into the top 25. He eventually finished 14th and retained his top ranking in the points standings.
"The good thing was that Greg never gave up and I never gave up," said Stewart. "Even when I got a lap down, Greg probably did the best job of everybody today in keeping us on a good pit strategy, and at the end, finally making a change that the car really responded to. The decision to stay out on fuel mileage there at the end was a pretty gutsy call, and it really helped us out and got us a lot of positions. We turned a potentially disastrous day into just a bad day. As much as we're disappointed about it, things could've been a lot worse."
"I'm just proud of the team and proud of Tony," added Zipadelli. "Most of the day, he kept his head and did a great job. He did what he had to do. We didn't do as good a job as we probably needed to adjusting early. We tried, but everything we did was wrong. We got it a lot better at the end. From where we were at one time to where we ended up was a great improvement."
Each week throughout the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup season, IRWIN, makers of professional power tool accessories like MARATHON saw blades and SPEEDBOR flat bits, is partnering with Performance Racing Network to honor the crew chief that had the toughest day in the pits, but still managed to help his team to a strong finish.
"IRWIN is proud to honor the hard-working crew chiefs of NASCAR Winston Cup Racing with this award," said David Pirkle of IRWIN. "Much like our line of bits and blades optimize a power tool's performance, these professionals have had to perform in all types of conditions, with many surprises and under intense pressure. Through the course of the race the selected crew has been able to optimize their car's performance."
The IRWIN Rough to the Finish Award includes an assortment of tools for the crew chief and a $250 check donated to the Ellerbe, N.C., Educational Fund in the racing team's name. The year-end winner of the crew chief points standings will win a $5,000 check donated to the Fund. Race fans wanting to make a contribution to the Fund may do so by sending it to the Ellerbe, N.C., Educational Fund, PO Box 443, Ellerbe, N.C., 28338.
In addition to the crew chief award, IRWIN is also sponsoring the weekly nationally syndicated radio show, "Fast Talk with Benny Parsons", throughout the 2002 season.
"Working with Benny Parsons and the PRN family is a natural fit for the IRWIN bits and blades line," said Pirkle. "The NASCAR fan-base is a hands-on group of people that are driven to do it themselves, if they can. IRWIN bits and blades are engineered to last long and provide precise cuts that will help professionals and DIYers do their best work."
IRWIN offers a complete line of saw blades and drill bits. From framing to the finest trim work; the performance of your bit and/or blade can be the difference between a long, hard day or one that runs smooth and easy. IRWIN specializes in the engineering and the manufacturing of these high performance bits and blades. Each is engineered to last, to deliver precision cuts and to optimize the output of your power tool. IRWIN drill bits includes SPEEDBOR wood boring bits, TURBOMAX drill bits, UNI-BIT step drill bits, and the unique IRWIN multi-purpose drill bits that penetrate various materials such as brick, marble, plastic, metal, cement and wood. A complete list of IRWIN products and capabilities is online at www.irwintool.com.
<pre> IRWIN "Rough to the Finish" Award Standings (updated 11/6, after 34 races) Crew Chief Team Points YTD* Jimmy Fennig No. 97 Rubbermaid Ford 15 Frank Stoddard No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge 15 Chad Knaus No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet 15 Bill Wilburn No. 2 Miller Lite Ford 10 Tony Eury No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet 10 Todd Parrott No. 88 UPS Ford 10 Robbie Loomis No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet 10 Michael McSwain No. 28 Havoline Ford 10 Greg Zipadelli No. 20 Home Depot Pontiac 10 Bryant Frazier** No. 44 Georgia-Pacific Dodge 5 Jim Long No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet 5 Lee McCall No. 40 Coors Light Dodge 5 Matt Borland No. 12 ALLTEL Ford 5 Newt Moore No. 36 M&Ms Pontiac 5 Pat Tryson No. 21 Motorcraft Ford 5 Robbie Reiser No. 17 DeWalt Ford 5 Tommy Baldwin*** No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge 5 Mike Hillman No. 14 Conseco Pontiac 5 Paul Andrews No. 99 CITGO Ford 5 Donnie Wingo No. 26 Discover Card Ford 5 Tony Gibson No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet 5 Jimmy Makar No. 18 Interstate Pontiac 5
* Crew chiefs receive five points for each weekly award ** No longer crew chief for the No. 44 *** No longer crew chief for the No. 22