DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Warren-native Lance Munksgard had a hand in Sunday's Daytona 500 win.
Actually, as pit crew coach for both the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson and No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Munksgard's Hendrick Motorsports teams finished 1-2 on Sunday in what is considered the Super Bowl of NASCAR racing to open the Sprint Cup Series season.
Essentially, as was detailed in a feature story last summer in the Times Observer, Munksgard oversees every aspect of the No. 48 and No. 88 pit crews. In order to end the day in Victory Lane, the driver, as well as the members of the team - including the pit crew - must perform with pinpoint precision.
Previous to Hendrick Motorsports, Munksgard worked with the former Red Bull Racing with drivers Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne. In his first nine years in Sprint Cup (formerly Winston and Nextel), he was part of three Sprint Cup victories and he has more than doubled that total with Hendrick Motorsports.
Munksgard wasn't the only Warren county factor in the race. Russell's Andy Brown - who has previously worked for Penske Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing - worked as a tire carrier for Phil Parsons Racing's No. 98 entry driven by Michael McDowell.
McDowell and Parsons Racing typically "start and park" the car - a tactic used by low budget teams to build up revenue and become more competitive. Today, with Brown lending his talents, McDowell drove the car to a ninth-place finish - the best Sprint Cup finish in company history.
Sunday was the second time in the last five years that a Warren County native has celebrated in Daytona Victory Lane. In 2008, current Eisenhower head wrestling coach Kiel Woodburn was a rear end mechanic for Penske Racing's No. 12 entry driven to victory by Ryan Newman.