NASCAR Cup pit crews set for busy offseason with changes for 2022

In the 14 years pit team coach Ray Wright has actually been at Richard Childress Racing, he’s seen NASCAR cut the over-the-wall pit team from 7 to 6 and after that to 5 individuals.

However those modifications don’t compare to what remains in shop for next season. The wheels will have one lug nut rather of 5. While that appears small, it will affect rest stop in considerable methods.

“Every change seems major at the time, but this is change to everything,” Wright stated.

He went on to include “This is the first time we’ve had so many unknowns.”

So, how can going from 5 lug nuts to one on a wheel be such a huge offer?

Wright notes how the modification modifies the qualities of the pit stop. Formerly, the secret for any pit team was discovering tire changers who might get rid of 5 lug nuts in less than a 2nd.

“We’re having them off in .9s and .8s, and man, that made everything,” he stated. “The whole pit stop was about the lug nuts.”

Now, Wright notes, a crucial element with the pit stop will have to do with the jackman. A secret for the jackman prior to was to get a good stroke so the cars and truck increased efficiently. That was very important so the tire changers might strike a lug nut as the cars and truck was increasing.

“Now, we don’t need that with one lug,” Wright stated. “It’s just blast that thing up and that’s a major difference.”

The tire changers likewise have much to get used to with the single lug nut.

Initially, they have a various air weapon. One that is 2 pounds much heavier than the previous air weapon, approximates Chase Masterson, front tire changer for Tyler Reddick in Cup and Myatt Snider in Xfinity this previous season.

“Even from our previous gun that we had to the Paoli gun (used by all teams) you are talking about 1/2- to 3/4-pound (difference), and we thought that was the end of the world,” Masterson stated.

Another subtlety is that tire changers would activate their air weapons as they entered into position to guarantee it reached optimum RPMs to get rid of the lug nuts instantly.

“Now if we do it (crank the gun before engaging the single lug), it’s not going to lock up on the wheel,” Wright stated. “It’s just going to throw out a bunch of sparks. It’s just going to spin. So you’ve got to engage it and then you turn (it on).”

Wright stated that, ultimately, the pit stops will be much faster. He keeps in mind how Kyle Larson had an 11.8-second rest stop to get the lead on the last drop in the season ending at Phoenix to win the champion.

“I think by October of 2022 an 11.8 is probably going to lose you spots,” Wright stated. “Eleven-eight in Daytona (in February) might be OK.”

He kept in mind that his group carried out a 10.5-second stop, which included just simulated fueling, throughout recently’s Next Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Give it a year or give it two years, and you’ll see them in the 9s,” Masterson stated on the possibility of sub-10-second rest stop for 4 tires. “We’ll figure it out. That’s what we do.”

To get to that point will take work. That will make this a hectic time for pit teams as they get ready for a brand-new method to do Cup rest stop.

“We’ll have a good Thanksgiving, and then we’ll come back and it will be reps city,” Wright stated, mentioning a lot of practice for his pit teams.

2. A brand-new technique

Even prior to 23XI Racing ran its very first race this season, competitors director Mike Wheeler took a look at methods to do things in a different way when the company broadened.

He’s putting those strategies in location with the group including Kurt Busch as a colleague to Bubba Wallace.

Group co-owner Denny Hamlin stated previously this year that the company was seeming established more likewise to a Formula 1 group. Wheeler stated he spoke with “top-five teams, organizations” in Formula 1 and IndyCar through Zoom contacts us to discover how they structure their groups.

“I talked to people last January about this, knowing that Gen-7 was coming,” Wheeler informed NBC Sports. “How F1 teams go have two teams. They work together, yet they have one core group on the station on pit lane calling the race.

“In practice, everyone has their own ideas, but they have a boss and one of them is a senior race engineer, who says ‘You are going to change the camber, and you are going to change toe, and you’re going to report back to us what it does.’ Everyone knows where everyone’s setup is supposed to start. Everyone knows where they’re headed for setup.”

The discussions with groups in other series revealed Wheeler that he was headed in the best instructions with this principle.

“I found a few guys to talk and they said they studied the NASCAR system and was like they don’t think it’s better,” Wheeler stated. “They saw the same holes that I have been seeing. It just gave me confirmation that I cannot be scared to chase it.”

NASCAR Cup Series Test

NASCAR Cup Series Test

Wheeler likewise credited Steve Lauletta, the group’s president. Lauletta had actually formerly been an executive at Chip Ganassi Racing and saw how that company’s NASCAR and IndyCar groups ran.

“I think this is an efficient way to go,” Wheeler stated. “We’re not duplicating work. That’s one of the biggest things is I’m trying to get rid of personal preferences and pick a path to go down.

“I don’t want to limit creativity. We’re allowed to do setups that we want to do, but I want to make sure that (crew chief Billy Scott) is one of the guys on both side of the fence and not going ‘I don’t know what they are doing, but I’ll find out why they are faster than me on Monday.’ That’s not really a good way to learn.”

With a single-car group this year, Wheeler didn’t have the high-end he has now. He likewise was the team chief for Wallace much of the year. Wheeler’s time was divided in between work for the next race and looking even more ahead for the group. With Bootie Barker now Wallace’s team chief, Wheeler can concentrate on larger photo products, such as the group’s structure.

“We’re basically going to have the guys that assemble the 23 cars are going to assemble the 45 cars as well,” Wheeler stated. “Everyone reports to a common person and not a team number person. Once they go to the racetrack, Billy (Scott, crew chief for Busch) is going to be with his group and they’re going to execute the weekend for the 45 car. Bootie is going to go over to the 23 group and execute the weekend with that car.

“I’m not going to have those guys worry about trivia things. I have managers in the shop doing that kind of stuff. They’re going to be worrying about car performance, educating the crew and execution.”

To assist with that, the group just recently included a number of individuals. Amongst the brand-new hires was Dave Rogers, who won the Xfinity champion as team chief for Daniel Hemric.

“The idea with Dave, he’s one of those guys that are available and you need good people,” Wheeler stated. “We call him the performance director. He’ll be a lot with the engineering side of it, not necessarily setups but the core group, whether it be aero or strategy or some other development.

“Right now, we have a good alliance with (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Toyota, but we’ve still to use it to the fullest advantage while making our own better. Dave is one those guys with a unique talent in the garage area, highly respected and experienced that we can put him to use and help develop our program as a whole.”

3. More work to do

Cup groups will go back to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s oval to evaluate the Next Gen cars and truck Dec. 15 and 17. The two-day test there previously this month revealed more work was required on the 1.5-mile track with the brand-new cars and truck.

Among the concerns that turned up in the test was just how much slower the Next Gen cars and trucks were compared to the times operate on the Charlotte oval in May with the previous cars and truck. While a range of elements contributed, consisting of motorists working their method to be comfy in the brand-new cars and truck, it did raise the concern of how essential speed is.

Previous champ Chase Elliott states he discovered a distinction.

“I definitely feel like you are going a little slower down the straightaway,” he stated at last week’s test. “But once you kind of land in the corner itself, I don’t know that it feels a ton different, maybe a little bit.

“Certainly, I feel like the biggest difference, just from a momentum standpoint that I felt, was just the tire falloff. I could really hear and feel how much I slowed down from the beginning of a 20-lap run to the end. That was probably the biggest thing to that stood out to me. But that’s going to change track to track.”

When it comes to the speed differential and if it’s a problem, Elliott wasn’t sure.

“If it’s entertaining and it’s exciting and we’re able to put on a good race, like, who cares, really, how fast we’re going at the end of the day,” Elliott stated. “But, if the racing is no better and if we take a step backwards in our product on our track, then I don’t think we should be going slower.”

4. Make over

Moving the cars and truck number forward from the door is indicated to offer sponsors a bigger area to utilize. The current Next Gen tests on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval and oval offered a peek of how the area might be utilized.

Steve Newmark, president of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing group, stated the business has actually had favorable actions from its sponsors on the modification and what it can permit them to do on the cars and truck.

“This year has been, I think, particularly energizing because there are so many new aspects of this,” Newmark stated. “By moving the number, that gives you the ability to do a lot more with the paint scheme … than you could before.”

Newmark likewise kept in mind that with more area on the side of the cars and truck, there’s a little less area for other sponsors in other locations.

“This may not be apparent to the average fan, the lower rear quarter panel is way smaller than it used to be, so now you have to look at where’s other spaces we can showcase an associate sponsor,” he stated. “There’s been some difficulties with it, but for the most part it’s been a huge positive. The partners have loved it. It gives them, I don’t want to say a blank canvas, but a different canvas to paint on. I think you are going to see some pretty cool paint schemes coming out next year.”

Newmark likewise kept in mind that not all business would utilize all the area readily available to them.

“Some brands like the minimalist approach, and … there are others that want to be loud and bold and use every space on the car,” he stated. “A lot of those will depend on the sponsors. I’ll bet you’ll see some really creative paint schemes out there because this allows for more creativity than we have had before.”

5. Roadway warriors

With 7 roadway course occasions on the Cup schedule this previous season, there was speak about the number of of those races Chase Elliott would win and who might challenge him.

Both of Elliott’s wins this season began roadway courses. He won at Circuit of the Americas in May and at Roadway America in July. Colleague Kyle Larson won a series-high 3 races on roadway courses.

Elliott and Larson each ended up in the leading 5 in 5 of the 7 roadway courses. Elliott, Larson, Denny Hamlin (4 leading fives), Kyle Busch (3) and Joey Logano (3) integrated to score 57.1% of the leading fives on all the Cup roadway course occasions in 2021.

Tyler Reddick won 3 phases on the roadway courses, the majority of in Cup. Elliott, Larson, Logano and Busch each won 2 phases.

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.