Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Anatomy of a pit stop
Seven crew members are routinely allowed over the wall during pit stops per NASCAR rules. At times, NASCAR will inform teams that an eighth crew member will be allowed over the wall for a pit stop with the responsibility of cleaning the windshield. An average efficient pit stop that consists of the changing of all four tires and a full tank of fuel can take anywhere between 13 and 15 seconds. The amount of pit stops during a race vary because of numerous factors -- race length, caution flags, fuel mileage, tire wear and pit strategy to name a few. Below is a look at the pit crew and their responsibilities during a routine stop during a race.
1. Rear tire carrier
Assists the rear tire changer by handing him a new, right-side tire he has carried from behind the pit wall. May also adjust the rear jack bolt to change the car's handling.
Operates a 20-pound hydraulic jack that is used to raise the car for tire changes. After new tires are bolted onto the right side of the car, he drops the car to the ground and repeats the process on the left side.
3. Rear tire changer
First removes and replaces right rear tire using an air-powered impact wrench to loosen and tighten five lug nuts holding the tire rim in place. He then moves to the opposite side of the car to change the left rear tire.
4. Front tire carrier
Assists the front tire changer by handing him a new, right-side tire that he has carried from behind the pit wall. He repeats the process on the left side of the car with a tire rolled to him by another crew member from behind the pit wall.
5. Front tire changer
First removes and replaces right front tire using an air-powered impact wrench to loosen and tighten five lug nuts holding the tire rim in place. He then moves to the opposite side of the car to change the left front tire.
6. Catch can man
Holds a can that collects overflow from the fuel cell as it is being filled. He also signals the rest of the team that the refueling process is finished by raising his hand.
7. Gas man
Empties two 12-gallon (81 pounds each) dump cans of fuel into the car's 17.75-gallon fuel cell.
8. Support crew
Assists the "over the wall" crew by rolling them tires, handing them fuel, and retrieving air hoses and wrenches. According to NASCAR rules, support crew members must remain behind the pit wall during all stops.
9. Extra man
On occasion, and at the discretion of NASCAR officials, an eighth or "extra man" is allowed over the wall to clean the windshield and assist the driver if necessary.
10. NASCAR official
Watches for rules violations and helps maintain pit lane safety.