At Dover, NASCAR opened pit road earlier than usual after stage 1 as multiple cars were out of gas
As the first stage came to a close at Dover International Speedway, so did the fuel in the gas tanks. Drivers were coasting around the track, just to get to the line and avoid being a lap down. Denny Hamlin did that successfully as he ran out with a full lap remaining in the stage.
Most of the field pitted at the same time. It wasn’t just Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and others that pitted as soon as they crossed the checkered flag. Most of the field was about to run out of gas.
NASCAR reacted to the situation on the track. For TV, the sanctioning body usually waits a few laps to open pit road. In that situation, they opened it a lap early to prevent chaos.
“We don’t have a firm policy,” NASCAR Senior VP of Competition, Scott Miller explains the rulebook sequence for opening the pit lane on ‘The Morning Drive’ via Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
“Basically, the way we’ve been handling the end of the stages is give our broadcasters a little bit of time right there for a break. Then, come back for the pit stops. Then, have another break as we lead into the start of the next stage.”
“The unique situation that we had was the time the caution came out early in the stage put everybody if fuel conservation mode. We had a couple of cars running out of gas there at the end of the stage.”
“The last thing that NASCAR wanted was to have to push 10 or 12 cars in that ran out of fuel while we were waitin’ to open pit road. The decision was made kinda a little bit on the fly.”
“We’re obviously in the entertainment business. I don’t think any of the fans would have liked to have seen 10 of their favorite drivers end up 5 laps down because they were getting pushed back by the tow truck.”
“We just tried to take advantage of a situation that we saw developing that we’ve run into before. And it’s not a great situation. For instance, we’ve had times where people were about to run out of gas and we had an accident blocking the entrance to the pit road and couldn’t open it.”
“It’s not a very good thing to have cars out on the race track running out of fuel when we can open pit road. Since there’s no rules around when we open — We’ve gotten gotten in a procedure with the broadcast partners, doing it the way that you’re used to seeing it.”
“But, there’s no rules that dictate when pit road opens or anything like that during those stage breaks.”
It was a good heads up move on NASCAR’s part. If they would have had to send out multiple push trucks, that would have only delayed the opening of pit road as cars are pushing into the pits. As they took care of that, move cars would’ve run out of fuel and the cycle would have started all over again until every car in the field ran out of fuel and multiple laps were used up in the actual race.
Or, they could have pushed cars to pit road and opened the pit lane at the same time. While that might be entertaining to some of us, race cars probably shouldn’t be playing dodgem’s with push trucks with 200 people standing on pit road.
On their toes, they made the right call.
Related: Dover Race Results