Michael Waltrip's No. 15 NAPA sponsored DEI pit crew could be just one race away from securing the first ever McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fuelled by POWERade after they emerged as the best competing team on pit road during last Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway.

In the chase for the $200,000 bonus that goes to the season champion, Waltrip's pit crew has a 22-point lead over its DEI teammate - the No. 8 crew for Dale Earnhardt Jr. There are two races remaining - Rockingham (Nov. 9) and Homestead-Miami (Nov. 16).

Waltrip's NAPA pit crew, which has five McDonald's/POWERade victories and $100,000 in prize money to date, has led the championship since the season-opening Daytona 500.

"The NAPA boys stepped it up in Phoenix," said crew chief Richard "Slugger" Labbe. "The first stop was 12.82 seconds and we gained six positions - a great indication for what the day was going to be like. Their success is a direct result of the training by Walt Smith (DEI pit crew trainer). The No. 15 team and the No. 8 team are running first and second in the McDonald's/POWERade competition - what a testament to Walt and the preparation he makes."

Waltrip's NAPA Chevrolet spent the least amount of time on pit road at Phoenix International Raceway - 159.435 seconds. Jamie McMurray's Havoline Dodge was second at 162.096. Ricky Rudd's Motorcraft Ford was third (165.198) and Earnhardt's Budweiser Chevy was fourth (172.933).

The over-the-wall pit crew for Waltrip's team consists of: Brian Chase (jackman), Jeff Opal (gasman), Chris Crumley (front tire changer), Greg Osborne (rear tire changer), Shawn Ward (front tire carrier), Chad Walter (rear tire carrier) and Pete Rondeau (catch can).

During each 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup points event, the participating team whose car spends the least amount of aggregate time off the race track will be named the weekly winner of the McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fuelled by POWERADE, provided the team's driver takes the green flag at the beginning of the event. A timing line at the entrance and exit of pit road triggers the car's transponder and records the total time spent off the racetrack.

The point distribution per race is: 43 for first place, descending in increments of one.

The McDonald's Drive-Thru Pit Championship fuelled by POWERADE is the largest monetary contingency program in NASCAR history.

 

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