NASCAR: Joe Gibbs Racing Sees Success With New Pit Stop Style

by Jonathan Howard
(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

If you were watching the NASCAR Cup Series race in Richmond this Sunday, you might have seen Joe Gibbs Racing making quick pit stops. When it comes to those short tracks, it is all about changing out tires and getting the fastest stops you can get. JGR is always looking to be on the cutting edge of things in the sport. And, they may have revolutionized the pit stop.

The conventional way that pit crews run stops, wastes hundredths of a second on each stop. The reason why it is a little slower is that the person fueling the car has to pause fueling when the tire changers come through. That’s because the tire changers come around the back of the car to get to the rear right and then again to get to the rear left. When they come back around to the left side, that’s when the fueling has to pause, to allow access to the tire.

The thing that JGR is doing differently? They send the tire changers around the front of the car. The person that changes the rear right tire, runs around the car to change the front left tire, after. The team that changes the front right tire, runs around the front of the car as well and then changes the rear left tire. Diagonal assignments.

It’s on display here with Kyle Busch’s team. The No. 18 had the fastest pit stop on the day with a full four-tire change and fuel up. They were in the pit for just 9.1 seconds, that was done on lap 234 of 400. It isn’t clear if this video below was the lap in question. But that 9.1 second stop is a NASCAR record.

The crew chief for Denny Hamlin, Chris Gabehart said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Nothing great comes without risk. I’m happy to be a part of continuing to push those boundaries.”

Joe Gibbs Racing will ‘Study’ the New Pit Stop Style

Needless to say, it isn’t just Joe Gibbs Racing that is excited about the pit stop changes. David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development was enthusiastic about the possibility of a new pit strategy.

“When you are making 9-second pit stops … that’s a bit of a game-changer.”

When it came to the end of the race, Hamlin and his crew were happy to have some quick moves in the pit. The end of the race came down to Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Just looking at the last pit stop, Hamlin came through in 9.4 seconds. Harvick and his Ford team… 9.9 seconds. By the time Hamlin took the checkered flag, he was .553 seconds ahead of his rival in the No. 4.

JGR’s pit coach Brian Haaland said, “We’re going to have to study it and look at it and go back on the past races and see the spacing we intend to take up and what pit road looks like, cars driving past us. It might be situational. We’ll make a decision later on in the week on what we need to do. We intend to run this pit stop whenever possible.”

Look out, NASCAR, JGR has a new look pit and in a small sample size, it’s already making a difference.