Pit stops are quicker than ever but also expensive as ever
Today, the 2019 Snowball Derby will take place at Five Flags Speedway. The super late model event is called the Daytona 500 of short track racing.
There’s going to be a major change this year compared to previous versions of the event. No live pit stops.
Drivers will all hit the pit lane at times determined by officials. They will have a designated amount of time to change tires, make adjustments and add fuel.
“A lot of thought went into it, and honestly, we were late to the party when it comes to controlled cautions,” Five Flags Speedway promoter Tim Bryant told Short Track Scene back in January.
“With the fans in mind, they love live pit stops and we do too, but this is about the cost and what it takes to bring the best pit crews in.”
“We have such a tough level of competition at the Snowball Derby, and like NASCAR, the race on pit road was becoming more and more important, and teams were starting to spend more to get that advantage.”
This pit stop format has been seen once before in the 51 year history of the event. The 2016 race saw multiple postponements due to weather. As the days went on, the pit crews had to go home. Officials elected to remove live pit stops that year as a result.
Now, they will give it another go. This time, as a cost saving measure.
Related: Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and others argue over new Snowball Derby pit stop rules
NASCAR looking at removing live pit stops?
Racing in general appears to always be moving in the more expensive direction. That certainly includes pit stops.
This isn’t limited to the world of short track racing. The smaller teams on the bigger field also struggle with the same issues.
Last year, NASCAR teams were building fully customized guns for the sake of saving tenths of a second. It was rumored that some teams had a pit gun development budget of $500,000. The smaller teams couldn’t keep up.
NASCAR stepped in a put a stop to the nonsense. They issued much cheaper, standardized pit guns. They were an issue at first (mostly because teams were trying to cheat) but nearly all those issues went away and hundreds of thousands were saved up and down the garage area.
Usually, the most expensive part of any pit stop is the crew members themselves. 5 crew members jump over the wall to change four tires, make adjustments and fuel the car in 13 seconds.
That’s the part you see. What you don’t see is the 5 hotel rooms that come with that for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and sometimes Sunday night.
It’s rumored that the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Truck Series could be going to way of the upcoming Snowball Derby.
Brian Keselowski on pit stops
Brian Keselowski is the older brother to NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keslowski. Brian has 63 Xfinity Series starts, 3 MENCS and 1 Truck start to his resume.
“One of the first real cost cutting measures they have come up with. Pit stops cost teams so much extra money,” Brian Keselowski tweeted back in September.
“I hope pit stops truly go away in both Xfinity and Trucks. The cost is so big for team to haul specialized people to the track and pay them more than any mechanic that actually works on the cars. The days of at track mechanics doing pitstops is long over at bigger teams.”
“Chassis are the cheapest part of racing. Everyone likes to blame them but the actual chassis is so cheap, if you limited them by 1/2 of what they use today it would maybe pay one guy for the year.”
“Anyone remember when trucks had halfway breaks? How about when Xfinity could only do two tire pit stops under caution, trucks had the same rule for a while. No one would miss the current pit stop model and it’s changed many times.”
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