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I am looking for a critique for my writing

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by budcrew08, Apr 1, 2007.

  1. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    I wrote this feature piece on Ryan Pemberton, the crew chief for Mark Martin, Regan Smith and the 01 U.S. Army Chevy in the NASCAR Nextel Cup series.
    Please tell me what you think. Also understand, I wasn't able to do a lot of reporting for this as I would have liked because sports writing isn't my specific job yet... it was just a one-off deal at this point.

    Commander and (Crew) chief
    Today, the 2007 NASCAR season begins with the Daytona 500, and one of 43 teams will have a chance at instant glory and nearly $1.5 million in prize money.
    A local native will be there to help one of those teams reach that goal.
    Ryan Pemberton, the crew chief for the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet driven by Mark Martin, is originally from Saratoga Springs.
    "I've been wanting to get back up there for a few years, but the business doesn't really allow you do to do that," he said, referring to the fact that the Nextel Cup season is 38 races long.
    Pemberton, 37, got his start in NASCAR right out of high school mostly due to his older brother Robin, who worked for Mark Martin at the time back when he drove the No. 6 Valvoline car.
    "He hired me back in 1988 to wash parts for Mark's team," Pemberton said by phone last week while traveling from Charlotte, N.C. to Daytona Beach. "He not only helped me get my start, he helped me get an opportunity."

    Within the next two years, Ryan was a mechanic for Martin, who won his first race in 1989 at the North Carolina Motor Speedway.
    Once he got established, he helped his parents, who had a restaurant in the Saratoga area, move down to North Carolina.
    "Both my parents still have some family up there, but they are spread out a little bit," Pemberton said. "But my roots are still there."
    Pemberton said that all his brothers - Robin, Roman, and Randy - have been in the sport in various ways, and that they got their start at Albany-Saratoga speedway in Malta.
    "Robin messed with race cars and we've been around the sport all our lives," Pemberton said. "I used to sneak into the pits and the garage area at Albany-Saratoga back when I was 11, 12, 13 years old. I knew where the 'hole in the wall' was."
    His brother Robin, a long-time crew chief with the Petty family organization as well, was named the vice president of competition for NASCAR in August 2004.
    "It's a great opportunity for him and for the sport," Pemberton said. "He's dedicated his life to NASCAR and racing ... it's a good fit for everyone."
    Pemberton said despite the fact he hasn't been back to the area in nearly 20 years, he still has great memories of the area and its attractions.
    "Every year, we'd go the horse track in August. I have fond memories of the track and the city. We used to go to Saratoga Spa State Park and Lake George a lot, too," Pemberton said. "I even went to a couple concerts at the amphitheatre (Saratoga Performing Arts Center)."
    Pemberton has been a NASCAR crew chief for 11 years, eight of them with Ginn Racing (formerly MB2 Motorsports).
    In 1996, Pemberton got his chance to be at the helm of Larry Pearson's Busch Series team, helping him to a 16th-place finish in the points that season. He moved up to the then-Winston Cup (now the Nextel Cup) in 1997, as the crew chief for Derrike Cope.
    In 1998, he was the crew chief for his third different driver, this time leading Ernie Irvan to a 15th place finish in the points.
    He then left the team, moving to Jasper Motorsports until 2002, and then he was rehired back to MB2 in 2003, where he gained his first win as a Nextel Cup crew chief at Kansas Speedway in October 2004 with Joe Nemechek behind the wheel.
    This year will be a challenge for Pemberton and the Ginn Racing stable of drivers. The 01 car will have two drivers, the veteran Martin and rookie Regan Smith, split driving duties throughout the season.
    "It's going to be tricky and a lot to accomplish," said Pemberton. "There are definitely differences in style between the two drivers. One guy is the one of the best to ever drive a car and the other is just a rookie. It's my job to bring the two worlds together." (cont'd in next post)
  2. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    (cont'd from last post)
    With the way NASCAR rules work, splitting time between the two drivers prevents Pemberton from running for a championship.
    "We put ourselves in that position, but swapping the drivers back and forth gives us another element," he said. "It should be a great season for Ginn Racing."
    Martin starts the 500 today from the 26th starting spot. Martin's teammates Joe Nemechek and Sterling Marlin also made the race, while Smith barely missed out.
    "I've actually had my eye on him from time to time," Martin said of the younger Pemberton in a press release. "This is just the first scenario where it worked out that I was able to work with him again. Having a guy like Ryan is one of the reasons that I'm so excited about this opportunity with the U.S. Army and Ginn Racing and I am looking forward to working with him over the course of the season."
    One hot-button issue for crew chiefs is the new Car of Tomorrow, a car designed to make it easier and more cost-efficient for teams to build racecars.
    Pemberton said he doesn't think the COT is up to snuff right now, and he doesn't know when it would be.
    "Change is tough. It's really hard because it's new to us, but once it evolves a little bit it will be better for all the teams," he said.
    Pemberton said he is looking to come back to the area when the series comes to the road course at Watkins Glen in August for the AMD at the Glen.
    "I'm hoping I can meet with some people I used to know and some family, but it's tough to do it in only a few hours. Maybe I'll pull some strings to get to do it."

  3. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    bud -

    Thanks for posting. Sorry for the wait to have the work looked at, but we don't work on deadline here, so sometimes it takes a few days. That said, here we go.

  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    bud -

    There's nothing seriously wrong here. Having written a little about NASCAR myself, I know how hard it can be to get any time with these fellas. And, having found the time, how hard it can be to get any real information. Mostly it's apple-pie platitudes and promotion for the sponsors.

    That said, though, if Pemberton is from your area, I think that's what you need to concentrate on. Spend more time trying to get some reminiscences about the local angle, and less on what he was doing in NC in 1996. Why did he sneak into the local race track? How did both he and Robin end up in America's premier racing series? Does he know the Bodine brothers, also from apple country in upstate NY?

    As a craft matter, watch your run-on sentences. And be careful about trying to unpack a big box of dates and names and stats in the middle of a piece all at once. Better to feather them in throughout than dump them in one graf. The rest of the notes should be self-explanatory.

    As always, thanks for posting - and we'll try to get to you a little quicker next time.
  5. budcrew08

    budcrew08 Active Member

    Thanks for the critique. I apologize for complaining about the fact that no one had done anything with my story... I definitely understand there are more pressing threads on this board. Thank you for going through the story, I was pretty proud of this article.
    One thing: I added the Martin quote from the press release because I didn't want this to be a one-source story.
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