That's Racin Magazine

Hamlin team is pit boss

Thursday, May. 20, 2010

Before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge began Wednesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena, driver Denny Hamlin tweeted a prediction to his 28,000 followers.

Hamlin said if his crew didn't make any mistakes, it would win.

He was right.

The crew of the No.11 FedEx team won the Pit Crew Challenge, beating the defending champion No.31 Caterpillar team by .442 seconds in the final round.

"This team is like one big family," front tire changer Mike Hicks said. "We get so close every year and we finally got it done. It's awesome."

The No.11 team had a winning time of 23.132 seconds changing all four tires, getting fuel in the car and pushing it down a short pit road.

The victory continues a strong run for Hamlin's team heading into the all-star race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin has won two of the past five Sprint Cup races.

It led Hamlin's girlfriend, Charlotte Bobcats dancer Jordan Fish, to wear a T-shirt that read, 'All We Do Is Win,' as she sat in the car during each round of competition. Hamlin didn't know she planned to wear the shirt.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, it's pressure,'" Hamlin said.

"I just feel this team is on a high right now. Everyone is feeling it. It's one thing to be fast. It's another thing to be good and solid and not make any mistakes."

The final four included the No.11 car, the No.31 driven by Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No.88 and the No.39 Ryan Newman team.

The Hamlin team ended the night for Earnhardt's team, winning a semifinal showdown by approximately 2 feet.

"This is an athletic competition," Mike Ford, crew chief of the No.11, said. "They do a great job week in and week out. To run through all the rounds, it helps show everybody this team is strong."

Though it was a night for the pit crews, many of the top Sprint Cup drivers were in Time Warner Cable Arena to watch the event. Among the drivers on hand were Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, who was in the driver's seat of his No.24 car during each round.

Nick Bolling of the No.11 FedEx team won the jack man competition with a time of 5.573, nearly 0.3 of a second quicker than the other 23 competitors.

Brad Pickens and Travis Gordon of the No.5 captured the gas man competition for Mark Martin's team.

Nick Odell and Brad Donaghy of Kyle Busch's No.18 M&M team took the honor as the top front tire changer and carrier, winning by more than half a second.

The top rear tire changer and carrier were Dustin Necaise and Matt Kreuter of the No.33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper team.

"This is a good stage for us," said Pickens, part of the winning gas man team. "We're behind the scenes a lot of the time and people don't see what we can do. This gives us a moment in the spotlight and lets us show our talents.

"To win the whole thing is really big."