The 2015 Daytona 500 is in the rearview mirror now, with a young Joey Logano making his mark in racing history.
With the promise of an exciting NASCAR Spring Cup season ready to unfold, I continue my look at the fitness demands of a NASCAR pit crew with the experts at Pit Crew U in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Trainer and instructor Ben Cook filled us in on the details pre-race. Today, Pit Crew Coach Adam Merrell picks up the story from the POV of an actual, working crew beyond pit training.
According to Merrell, for the past few years Joe Gibbs Racing has become a consistently fast pit crew roster, especially in regard to their #11 and #18 Sprint Cup pit crews. Many of their crew members started at PIT years back to learn and develop the skill to pit a stock car in the Pit Crew U program.
“Along with their training throughout the years, and with the many of years that they have pitted together on those same cars, they have become some of the fastest crews on pit row,” Merrell said. “One of things that Joe Gibbs Racing has done with their pit crews, in similarity to some of the best professional sports teams outside of racing, is keeping players together for many years to get more chemistry between each other.”
“Our owner’s race team, Red Horse Racing, does the same thing here with his Camping World Truck Series teams, which has become a large developmental funnel for the Xfintiy and Sprint Cup Series to hire from here. Our race teams, with 1 and 2 year Pit Crew U graduates, practice in the 12 seconds range, and perform in the 13 second range at the track.”
“When Sprint Cup teams are now performing in the 11 – 12 second range on race day,” he added, “Red Horse Racing and PIT becomes a large talent pool for them to hire from for Sprint and Nationwide.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing #11 and #18 pit crew have held some of the fastest season averages for the 2013 and 2014 season. Merrell insists minimal changes coming into the 2015 season will keep those numbers elite.
“Their teams, along with a few other Sprint Cup teams, have even turned some high 10 second pit stops at the track in the 2014 season, which is where you will start to see more teams approach in 2015.”
“Along with the race day performance, these teams are starting to see practices in the high 9 second range” Merrell added. “Teams are realizing with getting more athletic pit crews on their team, keeping them together for an extended period of time, and making engineering advances on the equipment, that they pit the cars faster — and they can have huge impacts within their pit stop times and averages.”