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Pit box holds much more than tools of the trade

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
Published September 18, 2005

Two hours before the Sept.10 race at Richmond, Bobby Turner was making sure the odds and ends tucked into the many drawers and shelves of the war wagon - NASCAR's ultimate tool box - were ready. That's when the guy with the pit pass and the Jimmie Johnson T-shirt stopped to talked to Turner, the No. 48 team's assistant race engineer, who looked official in his team work clothes on the other side of the retaining wall.

Actually it turned out he was tucking his head under the glare screen to see the score of the Iowa-Iowa State game playing on the team TV screen.

Oh, well, back to double-checking.

Once the race begins, the wagon, with crew chief Chad Knaus sitting on top, gathering data from two laptops and readout monitors, a blue/yellow/gray rectangular steel chest will be the command center for Johnson. Telemetry will track his Chevrolet's speed.

Video cameras affixed to the side will tape his pit crew's stops. VCRs will replay them so they can see during the race what went right or wrong.

The big hammer rests just behind it in case something goes very wrong. The oatmeal cream pies and red licorice are in the cooler.

Before the race, the 8-foot-tall box is an oddity. Some teams, like the one next door, allow fans to crawl on top for a photo. Turner keeps them at a distance but smiles when the nice woman asks him to jump in a snapshot of her friend and the equipment behind.

The war wagon is nothing if not versatile.

[Last modified September 18, 2005, 02:15:36]


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