Top Sprint Cup pit crew members, teams of 2014 named

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Pit crews are arguably the most important part of any Sprint Cup race team.

You can have a driver with the greatest talent in the world, but if he doesn’t have a crack pit crew to get him on and off pit road quickly, that driver’s talent will typically go for naught.

But at the same time, while pit crews are so important, the members of those teams usually toil in relative obscurity and anonymity when it comes to attention and notoriety.

That’s why PitTalks.com takes it upon itself every year to honor the top pit crews. To its credit, PitTalks.com only takes votes from pit crew members only, so that this is a true representative selection process of the best of the best, as judged by their peers.

After a month of voting and more than 350 ballots cast by pit crew members on all Sprint Cup teams, the web site announced the results Thursday.

Not surprising, given their performance on pit road all season, the majority of individual winners came from the No. 11 pit crew of Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing, which was also named top pit crew collectively of 2014.

Here are the top pit crew members at their respective positions and their teams:

Gas Man: Justin White, No. 14 (Tony Stewart)

Jack Man: Nate Bolling, No. 11 (Denny Hamlin)

Front Tire Changer: Dustin Necaise, No. 11 (Denny Hamlin)

Front Tire Carrier: Kevin Harris, No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.)

Rear Tire Changer: Mike Hicks, No. 11 (Denny Hamlin)

Rear Tire Carrier: Heath Cherry, No. 11 (Denny Hamlin)

Pit Coach of the year: Mike Lepp, Joe Gibbs Racing

Pit Crew of the Year:

  • 1st place – No. 11 car (Denny Hamlin/Joe Gibbs Racing).
  • 2nd place – No. 24 car (Jeff Gordon/Hendrick Motorsports).
  • 3rd lace – No. 22 car (Joey Logano/Team Penske)
  • Honorable Mention: (tie) No. 20 car (Matt Kenseth/Joe Gibbs Racing and No 88 car (Dale Earnhardt Jr./Hendrick Motorsports).

Congratulations to all the winners.

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Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”