For the past decade, pit crew coaches and teams have focused their recruiting efforts more towards former college or professional athletes. The thought process behind this is that athletes are bigger, stronger, faster and can learn the pit crew skills in a shorter amount of time than non-athletes. With the new “5 minute clock” rule that NASCAR has implemented for 2017, the process of damage repair on pit road has been put under a microscope. Not only do the teams just get 5 minutes to repair damage but there is also a huge penalty of your car being “parked for the remainder of the race” if you have more than 6 crewmembers over the wall during damage repair! In the past, teams could put all hands on deck, pit crew athletes to change tires along with mechanics and fabricators to make repairs all at the same time. Because this is no longer an option and time is more precious than ever, could this be the reemergence of mechanics and fabricators as the new standard of pit crew athlete?

As we look ahead to the Talladega race weekend, damage repair on pit road could prove to be a huge factor in this race. Teams that can quickly and efficiently repair whatever issues Dega can create could find themselves in victory lane. Case in point…the car that Kurt Busch drove to victory lane in the 2017 Daytona 500 just ten weeks ago looked like it had been in a demolition derby! Busch’s pit crew was under the 5 minute clock numerous times during that race but was able to repair substantial body damage within the time limit. As I look at that pit crew and their skillset, there are 2 fabricators, 3 mechanics and one former athlete. I think that is an excellent balance in this day and time!

Good luck to all the pit crews at Talladega, stay safe and keep the hammers and 200 mph tape handy!!

Joe Piette

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