As the pit crews and teams prepare for the Texas race this weekend, there are a lot of unknowns everyone will be facing. Since we raced there in November last year, the entire track has been repaved and turns 1 & 2 have actually been re-configured. The banking in these turns was knocked down from 24 degrees to 20 degrees and the track itself was widened from 60 feet to 80 feet. Sounds to me like the Crew Chief’s notebooks from past races could go straight to the recycle bin!
What impact would changing the track’s racing surface have on pit crews? Tires, Tires, Tires! In recent past races at Texas, 4 new tires was pretty much the norm due to tire fall off. Going into this weekend, no one really knows what to expect from the tires so therefore, how many tires will need to be changed on each pit stop is a huge mystery! Goodyear always has safety in mind so could we see a tire that doesn’t wear out, meaning we might not change tires and only get fuel on any given stop? Maybe we will need to change 2 tires but will it be right side tires or perhaps left side tires? With new asphalt that the track workers have been trying to “age” using chemicals and things like that, will we need to change all 4 tires every stop?
The one thing I haven’t mentioned is that they have also repaved pit road. From a pit crew standpoint, this can be good or this can be bad! Good if the surface of the pit stalls are somewhat rough finished which will give the crews good grip and allow them to feel confident with their footing. Bad if the surface is very smoothly finished. This can create lack of grip in footing resulting in crewmembers slipping or falling during a pit stop…either way it adds time to the stopwatch and we all know that is not good!
No matter what the tire situation and the pit road surface is, the pit crews will have to be ready to deal with it. The best pit crews out there are the ones that can adapt and overcome!
Good luck to all the crews this weekend and kudos to Texas Motor Speedway for the improvements!