Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 team wins 2012 Sprint Pit Crew Challenge

Lowe's No. 48 front tire changer Dave Collins celebrates with his children after winning the 2012 Sprint Pit Crew Challenge on Thursday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. (Matt Weaver/NASCAR Ranting and Raving)

CHARLOTTE - In a repeat of last year's final round, the My Lowe's No. 48 team defeated the FedEx No. 11 to win the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge Thursday night at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte. In doing so, the Lowe's team guaranteed their driver, Jimmie Johnson, first choice of pit stalls for Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race.

"I think it's going to be a big advantage, especially if you can get out there and win one of those first couple of segments," crew chief Chad Knaus said.

The final margin was one of the closest in event history with Johnson's crew edging Hamlin's by 0.294 of a second. The Lowe's team finished their stop in 22.533 seconds, even quicker than last year's winning time of 22.298.

This is the team 48's first victory in the event, since its inception in 2005.

"In this discipline, the athleticism and training really pays off," Johnson said of his team. "We made a big effort to get full-fledged athletes who did nothing but work on their pit stops and disciplines. And then they focused on this -- the distance to run, the car push and all that -- and I think it just shows how strong they are, how physically able they are to get the job done."

The Lowe's team defeated the Wood Bros. No. 21 and the Joe Gibbs No. 20 to return to the finals, a rematch of last year's championship bout. Unlike last year, Chad Knaus' over-the-wall team would not be denied.

Both teams were evenly matched during the individual phases, with Johnson's team just barely getting to their car first. The Lowe's team put it away on the strip, out-pushing their competition to the start-finish line, completing the stop in just over 22 seconds - the fastest stop of the night.

Members of the winning team consists of TJ Ford (jack man), Brandon Harder (gas man), Dave Collins (front tire), RJ Barnette (front tire), Calvin Teague (rear tire) and Matt Tyrrell (rear tire). They are coached by Greg Morin.

In addition to deciding the first pit stall for Saturday's All-Star Race, the My Lowe's No. 48 also took home $80,675 for their winning efforts. Previous winners of the event include the Gibbs No. 11 (two times), Richard Childress No. 31, Red Bull Racing No. 83, Penske No. 12, Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 1 and Evernham Racing No. 9.

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