Earlier this week, pit crew member Paul Swan joined the podcast to talk about his NASCAR career on the newest episode of Uncut with Jay Cutler. Swan is the lead tire handler for driver Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro. So, he spoke with host Jay Cutler about racing, the ins and outs of working in a pit crew, and much more.
Swan and Cutler talked at length about his interesting path to NASCAR. The 32-year-old shared the story of transitioning from playing college football at Bowling Green to working with Richard Childress Racing. He took a chance opportunity to try out for RCR and made the most of it, and eventually worked his way up to Dillon’s pit crew. Host Jay Cutler knows all about what goes into pit lane, but he asked Swan to explain it to his audience.
“Explain what you do,” the host said. “I mean I’ve seen it in action, it’s electric. But give the people listening and watching [an idea of] how this goes down.”
“So, basically we’re carrying these huge tires out in front of a speeding car that’s coming down pit road – with other cars coming down around you. I almost got hit this past week in Michigan. Yea, we had a real close call,” Paul Swan shared on Uncut with Jay Cutler.
“There’s four of us, there’s three of us that jump out in front of the car,” Swan continued. “Front changer, me as a tire carrier, [and] the jack man. The rear changer comes from behind the car. We all do the right side. I hand the tire off to the jack man. I run around him to the right rear, hang that tire. Take the tire that came off the right rear from the rear changer, run back to the wall and drop that one off. Grab the left front tire from my tire roller. Put the left front tire on, and boom, that’s a stop. And we’ve gotta do that in about nine seconds.”
Paul Swan Shares All the Things That Can Go Wrong on Pit Lane
As Paul Swan mentioned, his team just moved into the No. 1 spot for pit crews on the year. Swan and the rest of the pit crew have been consistently fast in getting Austin Dillon in and out of pit road this season. However, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect, since there’s always plenty that can go wrong in any given pit stop.
The lead tire handler shared his team’s weekly routine as well on Uncut with Jay Cutler. The pit crews work out and practices like any other athletes who are trying to improve their game. They also watch film of their performances and break down where they can get better and faster. Host Jay Cutler wanted to know more about what slows down pit crews when every millisecond counts in NASCAR.
“What’s the number one thing that messes you guys up time wise?” Cutler asked Swan.
“I mean there’s a lot of stuff,” Swan explained. “Like just starting at the initial part of the stop. If Javy, our jack man, misses the peg, that’ll slow it down a ton. Or if our changers can’t get the lug off quick enough. If I miss a hang, if we come around the left side, again if you miss a jack peg. If our changers can’t get a lug off, again if I miss a hang. Those are the biggest things that’ll mess a stop up.”
The Biggest ‘No-No’ on Pit Road That Leads to Pit Crew Members Getting Suspended
One of the biggest issues is making sure the wheels are simply secured to the race car before they drive off. Seems easy enough, but that’s not always the case as Paul Swan shared. When you’re attempting to change four tires in less than 10 seconds, it’s easier said than done at times.
“If you don’t get [the wheel] on there, and the changer thinks it’s on there, and we drop the car and it goes out. That’s how a lot of cars’ tires have been falling off this year,” Swan added. “That’s a big no-no. We get a four-race suspension [if that happens]. Our crew chief, the jack man, and the changer that it happened to all get a four week suspension. So that’s that a big no-no.”
“[Suspended with] no pay?” Cutler asked.
“Well, it hasn’t happened to us yet. So, I’m not quite sure. But I don’t want to find that out. Yea, knock on wood,” Swan amusingly answered as both he and Cutler knocked on their desks.
Paul Swan talks much more about his career in NASCAR on the new Uncut with Jay Cutler. Make sure to watch the entire interview in the video above, or tune in and listen on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you listen to your favorite podcasts.