TUMS ANNOUNCES GRAND MARSHAL SELECTION FOR TUMS FAST RELIEF 500 ON OCT. 24 43 Crew Members to Give the Command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines" Martinsville, Va. (Sept. 28, 2010) --To honor the dedicated road warriors and pit crew...
TUMS ANNOUNCES GRAND MARSHAL SELECTION FOR TUMS FAST RELIEF 500 ON OCT. 24
43 Crew Members to Give the Command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines"
Martinsville, Va. (Sept. 28, 2010) --To honor the dedicated road warriors and pit crew members, TUMS will designate all crew members as the Grand Marshals for the 2010 TUMS Fast Relief 500 on Oct. 24.For the first time in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history, 43 crew members, one from each team, will represent all crew members and collectively give the command "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines."J
"TUMS is excited to honor the crews that give an immeasurable amount of heart and dedication to the sport," said Traci Plate, brand manager for TUMS. "We often focus attention on the drivers and crew chiefs and overlook the invaluable contributions by the people who assemble, perfect and pit the cars week in and week out. TUMS wants to change that for the TUMS Fast Relief 500."
Each team pre-selected the crew member that best represents and embodies the team spirit to give the command. Prior to the TUMS Fast Relief 500, a complete line up of the 43 team-designated grand marshals will be announced.
The first eight grand marshals, listed in no particular order, are outlined below and highlight the invaluable role they play within the team environment and their passion for racing.
BENJY GRUBBS - No. 1 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
After a trip with his parents to the old Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway to see a Sprint Cup (then Winston Cup) race in 1983, Grubbs fell in love with NASCAR. When his own plans to drive race cars fell through due to lack of finances, he used his skills as a welder taught to him by his dad to build race cars for his hero, Darrell Waltrip, when the three-time champion drove for Tyler Jet Motorsports in 1998.
From there, he moved to Roush-Fenway Racing and driver Matt Kenseth from 1999 to 2005 and on to his present role as chassis fabricator and gas man for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing.
"It's really something to see raw tubing on a shop floor and the next thing you know, there's a race car sitting there," Grubbs says. "I really love the competition on Sundays, especially when you win the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 like we have this season."
RYAN McCRAY - No. 6 Roush Racing Ford
Having grown up around race cars owned and driven by father, NASCAR Winston West Champion Rick McCray, Ryan completed an award-winning high school baseball career as a catcher before moving east from San Bernardino, Calif. To follow his own racing career. The former catcher now works as a fabricator for the No. 6 team and driver David Ragan in the shop during the week and carries 85-pound tires during pit stops on race day.
"I'm competitive and love being part of a team," McCray says. "I love being able to help make the team better through what I do."
KEVIN DUNCAN - No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
A native of New Zealand, Duncan raced dirt bikes and built suspensions and shocks for his two-wheel machines before moving to race cars in the early 1990s. His work with an Indy Car team in California led to a chance to move to North Carolina in 2000 to work with the former PPI Motorsports team owned by Cal Wells.
Duncan was familiar with NASCAR, having followed heroes Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison through TV broadcasts of races shown in his native country. Over the past decade, he has worked with both the No. 9 and No. 19 teams with former team owner Ray Evernham and now with Richard Petty Motorsports. He also carries rear tires during pit stops for the No. 9 team on race day.
"I really didn't come to the states to work with a NASCAR team. It just kind of worked out that way," Duncan says. "I'm pretty thankful to be doing this. I'm lucky to have this opportunity. I just love racing, the pit stops and competing.
RAMON ZAMBRANO - No. 19 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
A shock specialist for the No. 19 Richard Petty Motorsports team and driver Elliott Sadler, Zambrano, an El Salvador-born crewman, grew up in Arlington, Texas. Upon completing high school, he graduated from Universal Technical Institute in 2001 in Houston. On race day, he serves on the over-the-wall crew when NASCAR allows an eighth man.
"I like the fact everyone works as a team and contributes to the results of the weekend," Zambrano says. "I like to give it 100 percent every week and I know everyone on the team does, too. I just like that feeling. We're a team in the good times as well as the bad."
JASON BURDETT - No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
With a father and cousins deep into dirt track racing around his Arkport, N.Y. home, Jason Burdett grew up with a dream of someday making a career for himself at the NASCAR Sprint Cup level. When his parents began scoring NASCAR events in the mid 1990s, he immediately sought to make his own mark in the sport upon graduation in 1995.
Burdett spent several seasons changing tires and handling catch-can duties for Dale Jarrett and the former Robert Yates Racing and Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports operation before becoming car chief for the team. Today, he assists crew chief Steve Letarte with making sure the car is race ready.
"I just really enjoy the competition," Burdett says. "We're all friends in the garage area so it's fun to go out and compete and outrun each other."
BRIAN CHASE - No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
While in high school shop class working with cars, Chase discovered his friend's Dad owned a gas station. As pay for pumping gas after school, they were allowed to use the shop to work on street stocks and hobby stocks raced on local short tracks. An invitation to work for free on a Busch North (now Camping World North) car led to a trip south in 1997 to apply for a job in NASCAR's Sprint Cup arena. Chase and his friend landed a job with Diamond Ridge Motorsports.
Today, Chase, an avid bike racer and marathon runner, builds and installs rear-ends, trailing arms and all the rear suspension on David Reutimann's 00 Toyota and handles the jack on race day for the No. 56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr.
"The decision to go racing meant turning down a scholarship to play hockey for Sacred Heart University (in Fairfield, CT.)," Chase says, "But racing is all I've ever done and I love what I do."
NICK HENSLEY - No.77 Penske Racing Dodge
While growing up in a family of racers in Asheville, N.C., his Friday nights were all about turning wrenches on race cars at the famed Asheville-Weaverville Speedway.
In 2005, the avid former baseball star graduated King College in Bristol, Tenn. with a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology. Having suffered injuries on the field, Hensley had his sights on pre-med and aspirations of becoming a hand surgeon. His passion to race was too strong to ignore. The present-day front-end mechanic and race-day gas man is much happier pursuing his duties with the No. 77 Sprint Cup team.
"The crew chief may make a change to the front of the car and I'm responsible for making sure that change gets made in a timely manner," Hensley says. "My job is to make sure nothing falls off the front end of the car."
ADAM WRIGHT - No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota
Thomasville, N.C.-native Adam Wright is following in the footsteps of his father Pete Wright, a former well-known crew chief who has worked with such drivers as Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip and Hut Stricklin, to name a few.
Wright works alongside his father at Red Bull Racing on the No. 83 team as road mechanic contributing to the team in various capacities. Some of his responsibilities include making sure the team transporter is fully equipped for each of the 36 Sprint Cup races on the schedule.
"My dad has done some cool things," Wright says. "Now I have more of an understanding of what he knows and how much he can offer. To be with Red Bull is really great because they are a great company. I will always remember 2009 with Brian Vickers making the Chase and enjoying my first win."
In addition to the grand marshal program, TUMS once again has designated all fans attending the TUMS Fast Relief 500 as the "Official Starter" for the event. Each fan will receive a commemorative flag. Following the lead of the NASCAR flagman, fans will participate in the official start of the race.