As NASCAR’s 2018 started, many of us expected pit stops to be a huge issue for the teams. Simply by going from six crew members over the wall during pit stops to five one could expect some blunders along the way. While the pit stops have taken longer, it’s the air wrench that’s produced the most controversy.
Pit Stops for the Pits
Last Sunday at Texas we saw Kevin Harvick dominate only to have pit road issues of his own. This opened the door for race winner, Kyle Busch. The theme for the day can be summed up with “loose wheels”. Those loose wheels were most likely caused by the new air wrenches.
This is the first season NASCAR has required its teams use a mandated standard air gun instead of their own. NASCAR’s motivation to standardize the guns was to curb the cost of teams developing their own guns.
Drivers and Teams Are Upset
Kevin Harvick, Joe Gibbs and even Cole Pearn, Crew Chief of Martin Truex Jr. have all expressed their displeasure with the new guns. None more vocal than Kevin Harvick, who arguably lost the race Sunday due to pit stop issues. A “loose wheel” caused him to go two laps down at one time.
“The pit guns have been absolutely horrible all year, and our guys do a great job on pit road, and the pathetic part of it is you get handed something that doesn’t work,” Harvick told the media after Sundays race.
Asked by NBC Sports if he was going to address this with NASCAR Harvick said, “They know they have problems but they don’t want to talk about them.”
Team owner, Joe Gibbs also spoke unfavorably toward the pit guns. “I don’t like things not in our hand,” Gibbs said. “To be truthful, I’ve taken a stand on that.”
NASCAR Wants To Wait and Watch
NASCAR Senior Vice President, Scott Miller said officials will continue to look into the guns. On Monday, during an appearance on SirirusXM’s Morning Drive Show said, “Everybody is quick to blame the gun. We have to look at everything before we can say flat out it’s a gun problem.”
During the off season, NASCAR, under the recommendation and input from drivers and team owners, implemented several rules and equipment changes. All in an attempt to lower the cost for teams. Perhaps the pit gun change was implemented before the guns had been properly developed and tested.
It’s unfortunate that these NASCAR equipment may now be costing drivers races. From where I sat on Sunday, that’s exactly what I think happened to Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing Team.
“Everything in motorsports is a development process and this (pit guns) is no different. We’ll continue to keep it ramped up and get it right,” Miller said.
Let’s hope so. As Harvick said this week, “It’s embarrassing for the sport.”
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