NASCAR announced Wednesday a reduction in pit crew members and limits to the at-track rosters beginning in 2018. Here’s a look at what that means and other questions about the changes.
What is NASCAR doing?
NASCAR will cut pit crew members from six to five. NASCAR will set limits on how many team members can be at the track, starting next season.
Why the change?
It’s viewed as a cost-cutting method for most teams, although some small teams likely won’t save much money because they typically don’t reach the limits that will be set. NASCAR will make crew lists available to help promote these people. NASCAR also views reducing the number of pit crew members as a safety factor by having fewer crew members go over the wall.
What position will be eliminated on the pit crew?
Likely a tire carrier position. What you probably will see is a tire changer carry their own tire. So, a pit crew in 2018 likely will have two tire changers, a jackman, a tire carrier and a fueler.
Anything else different about the pit crew for 2018?
Yes, a fueler can only fuel the car. No longer can a fueler help remove a tire or make adjustments to the car.
How much will this slow pit stops?
We’ve yet to see, but it is likely to slow the stop. As the season progresses, teams will become more proficient in what they do but it seems those 10-second pit stops are gone.
Any other changes on pit road for 2018?
Yes. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said Wednesday morning that series officials are looking at teams using a standardized pit gun to change tires with in 2018. Teams are responsible for their own pit guns and more effort has been put into that area in recent years. Teams have had engineers dedicated to making pit guns faster to provide an advantage. A standardized pit gun will take away that advantage some teams have.
What about these crew limits?
In Cup, teams will be limited to 20 or 21 people per car. For an organization that has one or two Cup cars, it will be allowed to have three people in the organizational category, 12 in the roster category and five pit crew members. For an organization with more than two cars, they can have four organization people. Cup teams will be able to have an additional road crew position for the three road courses and Indianapolis.
So what are the classifications: Organizational, road crew and pit crew?
Organizational category includes the competition director, team manager, technical director, IT specialists, etc.
Road crew category includes crew chief, car chief, engineers, mechanics, shock specialist, tire specialist and aero specialists.
Pit crew category includes the over-the-wall members.
What about the limits for Xfinity and Truck teams?
Xfinity and Trucks teams will be allowed one organizational member each and five pit crew members each. Xfinity teams will be allowed up to seven road crew members. Truck teams will be allowed up to six road crew members. Xfinity teams get an additional road crew member for up to 10 races. They can choose the 10 races. Truck teams are allowed an additional road crew member for up to five races. They can choose which races.
Who is exempt from these lists?
Team executives, public relations personnel, etc. The crew limits are for those who directly work on the vehicle.
At Homestead, a crew member from Kyle Busch’s team worked on Martin Truex Jr.’s car after he hit the wall in practice. Will that still be allowed?
For that to happen in 2018, the crew member would have to be listed on the roster for both teams. Otherwise, they would not be allowed to work on the car. If they did, it would be a penalty.
What is the penalty for a crew member working on a car they’re not assigned to?
That has yet to be determined, but O’Donnell said: “It will have some teeth to it. I think the teams and NASCAR are in agreement that this is something that we want to work for all the race teams and there needs to be a penalty behind this when it is violated. We’ll make that clear to the media and the fans as we head into (the 2018 season).
What happens when there is a crew chief suspension or car chief suspension or other team member suspension? Will the team be able to replace that position or will they lose a spot for each suspension on its at-track limit?
This also is to be determined, O’Donnell said. He added: “Still working through some of those details. We’ll have prior to the Daytona 500 … what the final aspects are.’’
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