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Barrett and Crew Devastated

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          NASCAR NEWS - Thursday, July 3, 2008

Loss leaves Barrett, crew racing with heavy hearts
Car chief Arden killed in Thursday automobile accident
By David Caraviello, NASCAR.COM

LOUDON, N.H. - Stanton Barrett's qualifying speed for 
Saturday's Nationwide Series race wasn't as fast as he 
had hoped. But it was easy to understand why his thoughts 
might have been far away from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Barrett and the rest of his No. 30 Ski Motorsports team 
were rocked Thursday with the news that car chief Jason 
Arden had been killed in an early-morning automobile 
accident near Mooresville, N.C. Although details of the 
accident were not available Saturday, a team representative
indicated that the 28-year-old from Gurnee, Ill., over-
corrected after running off the road and slammed into a 
ditch. But there was no doubting the impact the news had 
on mechanics and crewmen in both the Nationwide and Sprint 
Cup garage areas. 

"This is a very tight-knit community. Regardless of whether 
or not you know people, you're around them, and you see 
everybody in the garage every week," said Barrett, who had 
been close friends with Arden. "Even though they may not 
be on your team or you may not know them, they're kind of 
a family member in the community. I think those kinds of 
losses are widespread. It impacts everyone a little bit." 

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That much was clear Saturday. Arden had previously worked 
at Robby Gordon Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing, 
and left behind many friends. Barrett said Arden had been 
living with Erik Darnell, a Craftsman Truck Series driver 
at Roush Fenway Racing. Chris Hall, a front-end mechanic 
with Waltrip's team, had been Arden's roommate last year. 
The call with the tragic news came early Thursday morning. 

"I got a phone call at like 6:46 Thursday morning. People 
don't call at 6.45 on your day off. It gives me chills 
just thinking about it," Hall said. 

"He was a great, spirited guy. He was always smiling, a 
hard worker. The best word I can use to describe him is 
motivated, no matter what we did. He loved working on 
racecars. He had aspirations of eventually owning his own 
business and stuff. He always smiled. No matter what the 
situation was, he smiled all the time." 

Hall remembered Arden coming to the track in his special 
"rain shoes" last year, to try and save the Waltrip team 
the effort of qualifying once they had fallen outside the 
top 35 in owner points. Barrett can relate.

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"I was going through all of my pictures last night, a few 
of the memorial cards and things, and in every picture you 
see, you see him with a smile on his face," he said. "He 
loved to live. He enjoyed playing video games, he enjoyed 
playing pool, he enjoyed walking down the street, he 
enjoyed talking to a random person, he enjoyed working on 
the racecar, whatever it was ... It wasn't about success, 
it was about doing what he enjoyed and living life and 
being around friends that meant something to him. Yeah, 
I think everybody will remember a smile on his face, and 
I know I will for sure." 

Barrett's No. 30 carried a small black and white sticker 
honoring Arden just above the driver's side window. Flyers 
with a picture of Arden and information on a Monday after-
noon memorial service at the Waltrip shop have been posted 
around both Nationwide and Sprint Cup garage areas. In 
lieu of flowers, donations are being sought via the Web 
site 4caring.org to help the family pay for funeral costs. 

"There's not much you can do," Barrett said. "Condolences 
and prayers, and that's all. You've got to keep moving on, 
do your best and pay attention. It might be your last day, 
or someone else's. I'd like to remind people to think about 
how they treat somebody. It may be the last time you say 
a word to them. Life's too short to not be happy and 
passionate about what you do and to treat people the best 
you know how." 


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But moving forward isn't easy for the Ski Motorsports team. 
Arden was the team's chief organizer and behind-the-scenes 
leader, Barrett said. The racetrack brings long, solitary 
stretches in the motor home, and ever-present reminders of 
his lost friend. 

"I'm happy I got to be a part of his life, I'm happy I got 
to be in a racecar. I'm going to try and have fun because 
that's what he'd want," Barrett said. "The last thing he'd 
want is you mourning around about him. I'd feel more guilty 
if I didn't try to enjoy myself and give my best to my crew 
and do my best in the racecar. That's all you can do. It's 
hard not to think about it. You're going to think about it."

So is Will Lynn, a mechanic who met Arden years ago when 
the two worked on dirt cars and followed him into NASCAR's 
upper levels.

"Probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to do was 
walk through those gates this weekend, but he wouldn't have 
wanted it any other way," Lynn said. "... He would have 
definitely made a good crew chief down the road. It's just 
hard to lose somebody like that." 

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