Stewart-Haas Racing discusses 2018 pit stops, new procedures and jobs lost
Today, NASCAR announced it would standardize pit crew and all crews at the race track. For the bigger teams, it’s going to bring a substantial cut in the number of total crew members at the race track.
Most noticeable, the over the wall crew will be reduced from 6 members to only 5. This will change the way pit stops are constructed. Teams will need to be prepared by Daytona in February.
In today’s world of social media, there are few secrets. However, NASCAR did a good job of keeping this rule change a secret. Even from super teams like Stewart-Haas Racing, who didn’t find out until yesterday.
Related: 2018 NASCAR pit stop rules
“Muscle memory can be a bad thing when changes come across like this,” Joe Piette told ‘Trading Paint’ on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
We’re kinda caught off guard here
“Honestly, we didn’t know about this change coming down the pipe until yesterday. We heard some rumors about it. We’re kinda caught off guard here a little bit. I don’t know, maybe I need to pay better attention to what’s going on around me.”
“Reducing one pit crew member, over the wall, was talked about and rumored around September of last year. We started looking at procedures and processes, with one less person on pit road. It didn’t end up coming to fruition for 2017.”
“But, we have some notes from things we looked at back then. It’s going to be interesting. It’s a little bit of a shocker to us.”
“Every pit crew members has been through our offices, wondering what’s going on. There’s some people wondering what’s up and what we’re gunna do. It’s gunna be a challenge.”
How does it change pit stops?
“It’s going to definitely require someone possibly carrying two tires from the wall, instead of just one. We’re going to have to get really creative on how we get the tires.”
NASCAR is taking away 1 over the wall crew member. However, from a functions standpoint it’s really two guys.
For the fuel guy, the new rule change is very simple. He can only fuel the car. So, one of the five guys over the wall, has one allowed responsibility. He can’t so much as kick a tire or turn a wedge wrench, that would likely result in a penalty.
“It’s going to take controlled chaos, to a new level.”
“You just added 40 lbs to what he’s doing. We’re going to get into looking at wear and tear on bodies. Let’s face it, we’re going to demand more out of our people because we have less people to do that work. We’re going to have to keep track of how much we’re beating these guys up.”
Beyond that, these tires can weigh a significant varying amount. Such as the tracks where inner-liners are installed vs the tracks that don’t. That could net a roster change, based on the weight of the tire that week.
“We may have a different roster, that we submit for the tires where we don’t run inner-liners vs the one’s where we do run inner-liners. The sky’s the limit on a lot of these things.”
“All these race teams are going to have to play toward the strengths of their people. I don’t think you’re going to see exactly the same procedures, on pit road next year.”
NASCAR isn’t just mandating the over the wall crew members.
The 2018 crew member rules and rosters are also designed to put a cap on the number of organizational and road crew members. It’s a change to cut costs in general and at the same time, level the playing field from the bigger teams to the smaller teams.
“I think it’s going to cost some jobs. I don’t know how many.”
“But, I think moving forward, let’s face it. We just removed 40 people off of pit road starting next season. I don’t think that means 40 people just lost jobs.”
“I think the people that aren’t as good with new processes and new procedures may find themselves on the bottom end of that. It’s just economics, if you don’t need as many people or you can’t have as many people we’re probably going to have to eliminate some.”
“It’s going to cost some people some jobs. I just don’t know exactly how many.”
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