By: Joe Piette

First and foremost, let me say Happy New Year to everyone!  Hope the holidays were good to all.  Now, let’s take a quick glance into what pit road has in store for us in 2018.

In my 29 years of having some sort of responsibility when it comes to what takes place and how on pit road, I have never seen the amount of change happen that we will see this year.  This is due to two major things…

  1.  NASCAR cutting the pit crews down from 6 to 5 crewmen over the wall
  2. The implementation of a mandatory Pit Gun, one style, one type that every crew must use

The 6 to 5 crewmen is one of the biggest changes I have been part of.  It is for the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series.  In 2011 we went from 7 to 6 crewmen which was due to a new Closed Loop fuel system that eliminated the Catch Can position.  That change made us look at how we handled adjustments which ultimately put more work on the Rear Tire Carriers.  It didn’t take long for Carriers to handle adjustments without losing time.  The new change from 6 to 5 crewmen is absolutely a game changer for how pit stops will be executed.  Keep in mind, in addition to only 5 over the wall, the Gasman can now only fuel!  No more pulling tires or making adjustments.  I can’t wait to see how teams will execute pit stops.

The Pit Gun change is not going to be as noticeable when watching pit stops as the one less crewman change but trust me…to the Tire Changers it is HUGE! (NOTE: this equipment change is only for the Cup and Xfinity series)  The new pit gun, made by Paoli, is much different than the equipment Tire Changers have been using in regards to size, shape, weight and speed of the tool.  As teams have been acquiring and practicing with the new tool, I have been made aware of numerous malfunctions, everything from small issues up to catastrophic failures.  Anytime a new product or tool is put into play there are always some type of challenges which is expected.  No doubt the folks at Paoli are working diligently to bullet proof their product.  No one wants to see equipment failures on pit road.  The Paoli pit gun is called the “Red Devil”, I sure hope this new piece doesn’t turn out to be a Devil!

I am very excited to see how these mandated changes all shake out on pit road.  It will be very interesting so stay tuned folks!


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