Four tires. Fuel. Adjustments. All in less than 13 seconds.
In NASCAR, the best insurance for a good finish is a great pit crew.
And for Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 56 NAPA KNOW HOW crew, their hard work and consistent performance on pit road this year paid off, earning them the highest accolade for pit crews in the NASCAR garage -- the 2012 Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award.
"We're really excited about winning the Mechanix Wear Award this year," said Greg Miller, head pit crew coach for Michael Waltrip Racing. "It was unexpected, and we're super proud."
This year celebrates the 11th annual Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Championship -- the only authentic competition voted on by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chiefs.
"To have the crew chiefs recognize you and see what you do on pit road all year long, it's definitely rewarding," Miller said.
The No. 56 crew won the first-quarter Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award, which is determined by a vote of each NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team's crew chief and given quarterly to top-performing pit crews.
A final vote among the 2012 season quarterly winners -- the No. 56 (Q1), No. 17 (Q2), No. 16 (Q3) and No. 48 (Q4) pit crews -- was held at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the No. 56 pit crew emerged as the overall end-year title winner.
"The importance of our job nowadays has come full circle since the 90's," said No. 56 team jackman Brian "Hootie" Chase, a 16-year veteran on pit road. "A lot of critiquing goes on these days, and rightfully so, our job is crucial."
The No. 56 over-the-wall crew's performance during the season helped deliver Martin Truex Jr. a berth in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, 7 top-5s and 19 top-10s.
"The NAPA KNOW HOW pit crew did a great job this year," said Truex Jr. "They were very fast, but most importantly, they were consistent. Anytime I came in on green or yellow flag conditions, I could count on those guys to hold their own and make no mistakes."
In addition to Chase, coach Miller's over-the-wall pit crew consists of: race day support Keith Koppenal, front tire changer Eric Maycroft, front tire carrier Craig Curione, rear tire changer Brandon Hopkins, rear tire carrier Adam Mosher, gas man Wes Evans, 2nd can man Joel Cox, and athletic trainer Pam Brown.
As the jackman, Chase triggers the start and completion of the pit stop and says with so much pressure on pit crews today, it's nice to be acknowledged for quick, consistent performance on pit road.
"It's a great honor for us and we're excited to take the award," Chase said. "Starting the season we set goals for ourselves not to make mistakes, no loose wheels and such. We hired some new guys over the off-season and we came together as a team pretty fast."
"Our guys were steady and consistent across the board," explained Miller. "We may not have been the fastest every single pit stop, but our pit stop times didn't vary much. Our crew chief [Chad Johnston] always knew what he was going to get when we hit pit road."
The No. 56 pit crew was presented their 2012 Most Valuable Pit Crew trophy and received $100,000 from sponsor Mechanix Wear at the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon held last Thursday, Nov. 29 at Encore Las Vegas. To see a recap video of Thursday's Awards Luncheon plus other events, click here.
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