NASCAR News

#17 crew wins NASCAR pit crew championship 
by Pete McCole
November 3
, 2002

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The #17 DeWalt Roush Racing team defended their 76/Rockingham World Pit Crew Championship title Saturday at North Carolina Speedway, topping 25 other top Winston Cup teams taking part in the competition, cranking out a four-tire pit stop in 16.823 seconds.

The crew, led by crew chief Robbie Reiser, 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, earning the team a $10,000 bonus in addition to the $30,000 first place prize.

“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 team became the first repeat champions since 1987-1988 when crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine and Dale Earnhardt won back-to-back titles.

“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.”

In addition to Reiser, and pit crew coordinator Andy Ward, the #17 crew includes Phil Drye (front tire changer), Bryan Dunaway (rear tire carrier), Benjy Grubbs (gas man), Justin Nottestad (front tire carrier), Dave Paronto (catch can man), Dave Smith (rear tire carrier), Russ Strupp (jack man), Jeff Vandermoss (car chief) and Mike Calinoff (spotter).

Teams from the Roush Racing stable made up the top three in Saturday’s competition, with Mark Martin’s Viagra crew, led by crew chief Ben Leslie, putting up a second-place time of 17.005 seconds, and Kurt Busch’s Rubbermaid team, led by Jimmy Fennig, taking third with a stop of 17.556.

Joe Gibbs Racing #20 Home Depot team, who service current Winston Cup point’s leader Tony Stewart, placed fourth with a time of 18.208. Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Budweiser crew rounded out the top five with a stop of 19.265.

Only nine of the 25 teams managed to complete their pit stops without any penalties, which are assessed for infractions such as loose lug nuts and spilled fuel.

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