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DATE News (chronologically)
02/27/07
nascar
Piette continues with duties with one eye
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Stop for a minute and try to imagine having to do your job with only half of your vision. How difficult would it be for you?
 
If you were a nurse, could you set up an IV with only one good eye? If you were a cab driver, could you drive down the streets looking only out of your right eye?
 
Now, imagine having to change a tire on a 3,400-pound stock car during a 500-mile race without the vision in your left eye?
 
That’s exactly the task rear-tire changer Joe Piette Jr. had to accomplish in Sunday’s Auto Club 500.
 
Ryan Newman's No. 12 team was able to avoid serious problems during its first pit stop on lap 9 when a lug nut off the right-rear wheel flew up and hit Piette in his left eye, knocking out his contact lens and leaving him without the vision in that eye.
 
“I’m just glad Newman didn’t come over the radio after he left the pits to ask if all the lug nuts were tight. Maybe I’m better at changing tires when I’m blind,” Piette joked as he told the story to Penske teammates. “I have never had that happen to me. The lug nut didn’t cut my eye, but it knocked out the contact lens. It was weird.”
 
The NASCAR official standing in the pit stall located Piette’s contact and after washing it off, Piette returned it to its proper place and was ready to get back to work.
 
“I literally got the lens washed off just before you came in for the second stop,” Piette told Newman.
 
When Piette was asked how he was doing on Monday, he replied, “I can definitely feel that I got hit in the eye, but other than a small bruise at the corner of my eye, you can’t see anything. I can see just fine.”
 
It’s a good thing the lug nut didn’t cause any more damage and that the NASCAR official had eyesight good enough to find Piette’s contact lens on pit road. That's because Piette and his fellow Mobil 1 pit crew members certainly received a workout in the season's second race. After nine pit stops during the 250-lap race, Piette figured he and front tire changer Ben Brown had hit a total of180 lug nuts during the race. They changed 18 tires each with 10 lug nuts on each wheel – five off and five on. Imagine having to do that with only one good eye. Penske Racing
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