CHARLOTTE, N.C._ Thursday night’s NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C will see the guys that go over the wall and are on the other end of the radio get their due. On Wednesday, the media had their shot at the pit crew spotlight.

With the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 pit crew – the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Champions – showing the way and providing insight into their world of NASCAR, we were able to put ourselves in their shoes. Aside from hitting your local indoor karting track, there are few ways someone outside the sport can feel as if they are part of the action. Yet, Wednesday’s media challenge gave some of the media – myself included – that opportunity.

Partnering with the local NBC affiliate WCNC NewsChannel 36 team, I tried my hand at carrying tires and helping my team across the finish line.

First off, I have to thank rear tire changer Heath Cherry for showing me the proper way to throw a tire onto the studs. He was very helpful in showing you the right way to direct the tire and move your body, it was clear he was as focused at his role on the team as the driver.

After a bit of practice and guidance, I thought I was ready to go. 

When the buzzer rang for our competition, WCNC’s sports producer quickly removed the lug nuts as I went to throw on the new tire. Not anticipating how close he would be to the tire, we ran into each other and slowed ourselves down. Let’s just say our driver would not have been happy.

Finally getting the tire on for him to change it was over the wall and to the end of the car. Getting to the back of the car I realized we had some serious pushing if we wanted to win as the other team was nearly a car-length ahead of us.

Still, we did our best and pushed the car across the line. We did not make the cut, but we all had a great time doing it and going over what we could have done different.

Hanging around after our loss, the Charlotte Fire Department took the victory against WCCB, the Charlotte FOX affiliate by a slim 0.22 seconds.

Tonight, the real stars will put all of us to shame as they pit both sides of the car – we only did the driver side – before pushing their car across the line.

Will the No. 11 team repeat as champions? Can the No. 18 team – the 2011 first-quarter Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award winners – beat their Joe Gibbs Racing teammates? Will another team claim the title for their own? We will all find out Thursday night in Charlotte.

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