VALENCIA, Calif., (August 1, 2008) - The No. 9 Budweiser Dodge team from Gillett Evernham Motorsports put together one of the most remarkable streaks of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season during a five-week span in late May and early June. During the period, Kasey Kahne won the Sprint Cup All-Star event, two regular-season point races and finished second in another race to move from 14th to seventh in the driver standings. Kahne's performance on the track was matched by the flawless effort of the Bud Crew on pit road. That performance has earned the No. 9 over-the-wall team second-quarter accolades and a berth as the second of four finalists for the 2008 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award.
The Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award is given quarterly throughout the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. At the end of each quarter, the winning pit crew is determined by a vote of each team's crew chief. The four quarterly winners are eligible for the year-end Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award and a check for $100,000. The presentation will be made at the 2008 NASCAR National Motorsports Press Association Myers Brothers Media Luncheon in New York City in December.
Following the win in the Sprint All-Star race, Kahne started second and led 66 laps en route to victory in longest race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, the 600-mile Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Kahne was a victim in an 11-car mishap on the 18th lap at Dover seven days later, but the disappointment didn't last long as he bounced back the next week at Pocono, taking the win after starting from the pole. He followed up with a runner-up finish one week later at Michigan.
“The pit stops were awesome during those races,” Kahne said. “Kenny (Francis, team director) and our Budweiser team gave us great racecars and the pit crew made it a total package. It was a complete team effort.”
Today, races are won by the thinnest of margins. A fast pit stop can alter a race's outcome. A team can have a strong car and a skillful driver, but without consistent pit stops, victory can be elusive.
Pit Road Warriors
Leonard Wood and the Wood Brothers are credited with revolutionizing pit road. Ray Evernham turned it into a precise art, replacing the traditional crew that worked on the race cars at the shop during the week and on the pit crew during the race. Evernham brought in quick, agile athletes seeking fraction-of-a-second gains on the competition on pit road. "There are no real big gains in the equipment anymore," said Evernham, co-owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports who built one of the sport's best pit crews for Jeff Gordon in the 1990s before launching Dodge's return to NASCAR in 2001. “It's in the choreography and in the physical ability of the pit crew members."
This Bud's for Crew
Brett Cumming is the pit crew coach for the No. 9 Budweiser team as well as the crews for Kahne's stable mates, Elliott Sadler and Patrick Carpentier. “The team's performance is a reflection of our operations and what they do here at Gillett Evernham Motorsports during the week,” said Cumming. “This team works hard and prepares all week to go out on Sunday's and execute our strategy. Our objective is to get all three teams performing at that level so each can challenge for such awards and accolades. We appreciate our peers recognizing the No. 9 crew for this award, our sponsors and Mechanix Wear for developing a program that rewards the efforts of the pit crews.”
Cumming's weekly routine includes strength and conditioning program as well as pit stop practices. "Half of our victory is gained from executing strategy, performing good pit stops, and giving the driver a real chance at winning; the other half is through synergizing the front and the rear team together as one kinetic force," explains Cumming.
NO. 9 BUDWEISER DODGE TEAM
Brett Cumming- Pit Crew Coach
Eric Wilson - Jackman
John Royer Front-Tire Changer
Jason Gay Front-Tire Carrier
Jim Carbon Rear-Tire Changer
Kevin Duncan Rear-Tire Carrier
Mark “Tank” Probus Gas man
Rick Pennington Catch Can
Kenny Francis Team Director