Joe Gibbs Racing Sets New Record For Fastest-Ever NASCAR Pit Stop

At this past weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series event at Richmond, the Joe Gibbs Racing Team set a new record for the fastest NASCAR pit stop featuring a four-tire change. It all comes down to the new single-lug setup for NASCAR’s wheels and a new pit stop choreography.

We’ve covered NASCAR’s new Next-Gen car before on Jalopnik, but one of the big changes made for this next iteration of stock racer came in its wheels. Instead of securing the rim and tire to the car via five lugs, crew members now only need to loosen and secure a large, single lug. So, in the heat of the pit stop action, the tire changing process has grown streamlined. In the past, race stops were regularly 11 or 12 seconds, with a 10 second or less stop being a huge rarity.

But JGR’s 9.1-second stop for Kyle Busch’s No. 18 car is paving the way for a whole new era in racing history, one where we could potentially see a NASCAR tire stop conducted in a fraction of the previous times. And part of that comes down to the fact that, for the first time ever, a NASCAR pit crew jumped onto pit road in front of the stopping car, not behind it. That’s the choreography I mentioned before.

Here’s how Kelly Crandall at RACER described the stop, via the perspective of rear tire changer Lee Cunningham:

As part of the new choreography allowed on pit road where the rear tire changer is no longer required to go around the back of the car, Joe Gibbs Racing has been at the forefront of doing something new. It was something they practiced for over a year and then lobbied NASCAR officials to consider (even showing them firsthand at their shop).

Here’s a view of that stop in action:

There are a few reasons for this change. First off, having the rear tire changer jump out in front of the car leaves a lane easily accessible for the gas man to refuel the car. It also keeps the tire carriers right next to the tire changers to help streamline the whole pit stop process. The rear tire change is also already on pit lane and moving toward the car by the time it comes to a complete stop, whereas before, the rear tire changer had to wait for the car to stop before they could jump over the wall.

The new lugs and new choreography may not be shaving any multi-second gaps from the overall pit stop time, but the changes are definitely cutting down fractions of a second — and in racing, each blink of the eye counts.

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