- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Michael Waltrip Racing has a 5-foot-3, 115-pound dynamo in the pits.

And it’s not Mark Martin.

The team announced Wednesday it has hired professional CrossFit competitor Christmas Abbott as a full-time crewmember for its NASCAR Sprint Cup operation.

The 31-year-old Abbott will be a “weekend warrior,” traveling to all Cup events in a support role. Her long-term goal is to be a tire changer.

“This is just the first step for me,” said Abbott, who squats more than 200 pounds and has competed in several CrossFit competitions since 2006. “I’ve been training for several months. This is the most challenging thing I have ever done. I’m here to do whatever my coaches ask of me, and I don’t want any handouts. I’m ready to work three races a weekend if that’s what it takes to get me where I want to be. I’m in this for the long haul.”

Abbott, who has a gun tattooed on her hip to remind her of time she spent in Iraq, will be in Clint Bowyer’s pit for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

“This is another first for Michael Waltrip Racing,” co-owner Michael Waltrip said. “She is an incredible, elite athlete and she has worked with our crews by bringing some cross-fit elements to their workouts. She is a competitor, and when she decided to start working towards an over-the-wall position, we said we are the perfect place to make it happen.”

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