Rockingham II: World Pit Crew Challenge report

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#17 Roush Racing Team wins second consecutive Union 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition title.

Rockingham, N.C. (November 2, 2002) - It didn't take long for Matt Kenseth and his No. 17 DEWALT team to earn their second consecutive Union 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Championship title. The crew, led by crew chief Robbie Reiser and pit crew coordinator Andy Ward, took only 16.823 seconds to change four tires and fill the car with fuel. 

The No. 17 Roush Racing team broke their 2001 record by .862 seconds to set a new world record.  The two-time champions are also the first team to break the 16-second mark since the competition evolved to a four-tire stop. 

"It's pretty cool to win again," said Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Ford Taurus.  "I don't have that much to do with the pit crew deal obviously, but it feels good to have the guys do this.  It feels good to have the confidence that when Robbie is calling the race to know that when you come in and need four tires you have the best in the business doing it.  They do a good job every week.

"Robbie has assembled a great group of guys and we've been able to keep them together.  It's not just a race team, we're all friends and we have a real good time together."

The #17 Roush Racing team and its Kenseth/Reiser combination is the first team since 1987-88 to win back-to-back titles.  The last driver and crew chief combination to do so was that of Dale Earnhardt and Kirk Shelmerdine. 

Roush Racing dominated the Union 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Competition for the third consecutive year, placing all four of their Winston Cup teams in the top-six finishing order. Three Roush Racing teams (#17, #6, #97) broke the 2001 world record time. The last non-Roush team to win a title was the No. 18 Joe Gibbs team in 1999. 

"One day of practice is all we really did to prepare for the competition, said Robbie Reiser, Crew chief of the No. 17 team.  "We spend the whole year doing this program.  One day of practice to make sure we got all the lug nuts tight is really all we did for this deal."

Only nine of the 25 teams completed the task of emptying 14 gallons of gas and changing both left and right-side tires without penalty. Penalties are assessed for such infractions as loose lug nuts and spilled fuel.  

"The first thing I did (when I took over as pit crew coordinator) was realize that we have a lot of talent," said Andy Ward, Pit crew coordinator for No. 17 team.  "I just basically tried to keep that group together and tried to reinforce good training habits as far as exercise and conditioning. I tried to reinforce what good crews our crew chiefs had already built."

"To prepare for the competition we pull out a racecar that we are going to use.  We set our lug nuts based on what the rules of the competition allow. We go out and do a stop then recheck to see if we are up to spec as far as the rules are concerned.  Then we reset the car and go again.  It's really pretty simple."

"These guys work every day on the cars and they have the duality in their function," said Jack Roush, owner of #17 Ford.  "It's wonderful that they've been able to challenge one another and rise to the level that the professional athletes brought. They are the best of the best. I couldn't be prouder of them."

In addition to being name the 2002 Union 76 World Pit Crew Champions, the DEWALT Racing Crew took home a record payout of $40,000. The total purse of $100,000 included $30,000 for first place and a $10,000 bonus for setting a new world record.

- Phillips 66 Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Jack Roush