Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 5/18/12


NASCAR’s All-Star Week festivities at Charlotte Motor Speedway kicked off on Thursday night with the annual Pit Crew Challenge. Teams were required to perform a simulated pit stop—complete with changing the tires and gassing up—and then push their car a short distance across the “finish line.”

The night started out with a major upset between the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing team (the part-time team of Trevor Bayne) against the No. 18 team of Joe Gibbs Racing (Kyle Busch’s team). Much to the shock of everyone in attendance, the 21 team moved on to the next round. Although the 18 team beat the 21 team on speed, the 18 team had a five second penalty on the jackman.

The No. 5 team of Hendrick Motorsports was eliminated in the first round by the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team when the No. 5 had penalties on the tire changer and gas man. The No. 24 team of HMS faced off against the No. 2 team of Penske Racing and was able to advance to the next round. The No. 2 team had eight seconds’ worth of penalties that cut them from the first round. The No. 55 team moved on to the second round due to the No. 51 team receiving 10 seconds of penalties. The last four teams to move on were the No. 99, 31, 9, and 15.

Some had byes through the first round, and these now paired off against the winners of the initial matchups.

The No. 21 team was fast, but not fast enough for the No. 48 team of HMS, allowing the 48 to advance to the third round. The No. 20 of JGR were on a roll and beat the No. 56 team of Michael Waltrip Racing in the second round to advance to the third round. Another upset occurred in the second round when Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team did not advance to the quarter finals. Instead, the No. 16 team advanced to the next round and would eventually move on to compete against their teammate, the No. 17 team.

The No. 11 crew, the defending Pit Crew Challenge champions of the last two years, beat the No. 99 team of RFR when the Roush crew suffered a five second penalty. Many teams throughout the night faced gas man penalties for too much water coming out of the car during the stop – including the No. 31 and No. 29 teams of Richard Childress when they faced off against each other. Although they both received gas penalties of five seconds, the No. 31 moved on with the fastest overall time. The No. 14 of Stewart Haas Racing and the No. 88 of HMS also moved on to the third round.

The quarter-finals began with the No. 48 team against the No. 20 team. Both teams made it through their stops without penalties, but the 48 came out on top with the faster time. The 48 team then went against the No. 17 team in the semis and was able to beat them to move on to the final round. The 2009 Pit Crew Challenge champions went against the two-time champions of the No. 11 team, with the 11 coming out on top. Other teams eliminated from this round included the No. 16, 14, and 88.

The final round came down to the No. 11 team of JGR and the No. 48 team of HMS, a rematch from the 2011 finals. The teams gave the fans a show, running neck and neck crossing the finish line. In the end, the No. 48 team took the victory away from the two-time reigning champs by just three-tenths of a second. Both Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were in attendance and proudly watched their teams face off.

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