No. 43 Pit Crew Shines in Competition Runner-up Finish Continues Improvement at Petty Enterprises The "Helping Hands" Pit Crew for the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge got their all-star weekend off to a rousing start Wednesday night at...
No. 43 Pit Crew Shines in Competition
Runner-up Finish Continues Improvement at Petty Enterprises
The "Helping Hands" Pit Crew for the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge got their all-star weekend off to a rousing start Wednesday night at the annual NASCAR Nextel Pit Crew Challenge. They finished runner-up in the team competition, finishing close second (three-tenths of a second) to the No. 12 crew. Rear tire changer, Daniel Rankin, and rear tire carrier, Bryan Rockwell, won the individual award and the $10,000 check for having the fastest time in the rear tire category.
At the beginning of 2007, the "Helping Hands" Pit Crew had a new look. Tim Sheets was brought in to change front tires and Rankin was new on the rear. Front tire carrier, Austin Craven continued his role as did jack man Tony Martin, gas man Steve Mitchell and catch can man Tommy Chandler. Petty Enterprises has since seen a marked improvement in their pit crews. This will serve them well as the Nextel Cup season grinds on.
With driver Bobby Labonte on hand to lend support, the crew blazed through the first two rounds with flawless pit stops. They defeated the No. 99 team in Round One. Then they took care of No. 48 team, the defending Nextel Cup champions. In a new twist, the competition committee added a "Call Out" round after Round 2. This allowed the higher seeds to pick who they want to go up against for Round 3. The No. 11 crew was first to pick and they immediately called out the No. 43. This proved to be a mistake as another perfect stop sent the "Helping Hands" crew into the semifinals.
Their opponent in the semifinals was the No. 01 crew. In a close race, another flawless stop by the No. 43 proved to be the difference. This setup a showdown with the No. 12 crew. This one also came down to the wire, with the No. 12 crew winning by only three-tenths of a second.
"We have been working hard on our pit stops, not just for this competition, but for pit road as well," said Rankin. "We were really confident coming in here. We knew that we would be a little bit of an underdog, but that was fine with us. We just didn't make any mistakes."
"Ricky (Thomas, pit crew coach) and Wes (Newsome, trainer) deserve a lot of credit for this," said Rockwell. "We have really been coming on here lately. This is basically a new team for this year. We are starting to really come together right now."
The competition will be broadcast on the SPEED Channel this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (ET).