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NASCAR pit crews are made up of seven members who go over the wall during pit stops and seven additional members who work behind the wall. The importance of those on the "support crew" is frequently overlooked, but Andy Papathanassiou stressed the importance of their contributions to the team.
"They really help with tires and hoses and getting everything where it's supposed to be and set up," he said. "They're as vital to the success of the crew as anyone."
With a full 12-gallon gas can weighing about 80 pounds, and a tire with inner liner weighing nearly 70 pounds, strength is obviously a basic requirement of all pit crew members.
A NASCAR official is assigned to each team's pit stall during the entire race to enforce pit road rules and help maintain pit lane safety.
The over the wall team consists of the following positions:
Tire changers -- As the names suggest, the front tire changer is responsible for both front tires while the rear tire changer is responsible for both rear tires. On a four-tire stop, they remove and replace the right side tires first; then they do the same on the left side. Tires that are removed are rolled to the pit wall, where a member of the support crew picks them up and pulls them behind the wall. Papathanassiou compared tire changers athletically to shortstops or second basemen, requiring quickness and excellent hand-eye coordination.
Tire carriers -- Like tire changers, each crew has a front tire carrier and a rear tire carrier. Working closely with the tire changers, each carrier begins the stop by jumping over the wall with a tire, which he holds in position until the changer has removed the old tire. Then he catches a new tire that is rolled to him by a support crew member for the other side, which he again holds in position until the tire changer is ready. According to Papathanassiou, the best carriers are bigger versions of the tire changers.
Jackman -- Using a 20-pound hydraulic jack, the jackman lifts the car on the right side for tire changes and then repeats the process on the left side. Comparable to a linebacker, he needs to be strong and have some weight to him, but quickness in getting around the car is also important.
Gas man -- The gas man dumps two cans of fuel into the car, handing off the first empty can to one of the support crew members. Height and strength are important traits for the gas man because they allow him to hold the can tall and straight, which increases the pressure of the gas flowing into the tank, thus making it fill faster.
Catch can man -- He collects the overflow from the fuel cell in a can as it is being filled and signals to the rest of the team when the cell is full by raising his hand over his head.
|"Everybody that goes over the wall on the 17 team is also a mechanic," says Robbie Reiser, crew chief for Matt Kenseth.|