Hendrick Motorsports’ Crew Sends Warning to Joe Gibbs With Their Impeccable Precision
Pit stops can be game-changers in NASCAR. From time to time, we have seen pit stops decide the fate of drivers in the race. One of the recent examples would be Tyler Reddick in the #45 Toyota, who spun out uncontrollably onto the track at Michigan after a faulty pit stop that sent him into the race with a loose right rear wheel. That is one case of erroneous pit stops, which can harm the driver. But the winningest team in Cup Series history, Hendrick Motorsports, pays some special attention to the underrated facet of the sport.
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Unlike HMS, their rivals and usual contenders for the championship, Joe Gibbs Racing, on the other hand, have suffered quite a bit due to mistakes in the pit road. Despite trying out innovative ideas to trim some time off their books, the team’s crew hasn’t entirely found its rhythm yet.
Hendrick Motorsports look to perfect the art of pit stops
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Practice makes perfect. The Hendrick Motorsports pit crew continuously strives to prove this proverb right on the track. In a fresh upload on their YouTube channel, the Rick Hendrick-owned outfit displays an immaculate and near-perfect pit stop with the #5 Camaro of Kyle Larson. Quick pit stops have been a characteristic of the team, and their aim is always to provide their drivers with the fastest changes on the grid.
Kyle Larson‘s final pit stop in the final race of the 2021 season won him a championship, repaying all his efforts throughout the year. That alone speaks volumes about the caliber and demands of the job. Usually, pit crews have five people responsible for changing tires, fuelling the car, and making the requisite adjustments. The task demands a great performance from a physical aspect and at unreasonable temperatures as well.
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HMS pit crew member and Kyle Larson’s rear tire changer Calvin Teague explains more about a regular day in his life, speaking to Detroit Free Press, “We typically work out three to four days a week here on campus as a team and we travel nearly every weekend. So we’re working five to seven days a week, whether it’s traveling, doing pit stop practice and film reviews and training.”
That is indeed a rigorous schedule and underlines the special emphasis on their pit stop routines. Championship contender William Byron also has a fair idea about the essence of the time that can be saved with these small changes.
“It really matters,” Byron says. “If they hit my left side tire fast, I know it’s gonna be a good pit stop. In years past, we’d struggle, but not this year.”
As the layoffs inch closer, Rick Hendrick and co will prepare for another demanding phase of their lives. Their main competition lies with Joe Gibbs Racing, who meanwhile have struggled with pit road issues at some of the venues this season.
Joe Gibbs Racing struggles with pit stops even after revised procedures
Earlier this year, Joe Gibbs Racing debuted their new pit stop procedure that allows them to get the car out quicker and can save some crucial time as well. In their new approach, the rear tire changer moves to the front of the car and handles the right rear tire. After this part is done with, he then moves to the left to change the left front tire. Similarly, the right front changer goes to the back of the car as well. This saves the team an estimated three-tenths to seven-tenths of a second in comparison to the classic approach of other teams.
#NASCAR … A look at the @JoeGibbsRacing pit crew of Kyle Busch with the new style pit stop where the rear tire changer goes around the front of the car instead of waiting for it to enter the stall and then going around the back of the car. pic.twitter.com/slbe9rTobJ
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) April 3, 2022
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But things haven’t gone quite the way they would have expected ever since Denny Hamlin‘s win at Richmond where he beat Kevin Harvick to the finish line by 0.552 seconds. Hamlin’s team 23XI Racing has also availed the services of JGR’s pit crew and he was left disappointed with it at Michigan. “It’s frustrating from my standpoint because I’ve lived through it myself,” he said after the unforgivable error with Reddick’s car.
Another example of their woes was the Cup race at Dover. Although Martin Truex Jr brought out his usual best to the race, his fellow drivers like Hamlin and Ty Gibbs suffered on the track after losing valuable time in the pits. Hamlin finished fifth ahead of teammate Christopher Bell but implied that he could have possibly won the whole thing if not for the pit delays.
“We’re just in a major slump. I’ve had different guys, different pit crews, but ultimately, we come in and struggle to not lose two, three spots. We lose eight, we lose 10 and we just can’t race that way,” said Hamlin in a post-race interview.
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The #54 crew of Ty Gibbs on one instance failed to fill the fuel tank to the its full capacity as well. Such silly mistakes are only going to hurt them ahead in the season. But to Ty’s relief, his pit crew delivered a masterclass at Richmond, with an 8.54-second pit stop that fuelled the car, changed the whole set of tires and put the #54 back on the track. JGR will have to introspect upon this problem of theirs surely and will hope that this doesn’t happen in the elimination stages. If such mishaps keep happening, the crew of Hendrick Motorsports undoubtedly holds an edge over them, at least in this department of racing where it could change the view of a race.