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NASCAR to enforce pit road speeds during qualifying

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NASCAR will begin enforcing pit road speeds during qualifying starting this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

NASCAR announced the change today in a memo it sent out to teams.

The memo, sent by Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller, dictates how teams will be penalized if drivers exceed the speed limit.

• If a competitor exceeds pit road speed exiting onto the track, the vehicle must return to pit road before being eligible to post a qualifying time.

• If a competitor exceeds pit road speed returning to pit road the time/or times posted on that run will be disallowed.

The pit road speed at Auto Club Speedway is 55 mph.

The move by NASCAR comes amid an increase in frenzied activity on pit road near the end of qualifying rounds

In the below video from Las Vegas, you can see multiple cars creep toward the end of pit road before launching simultaneously once the clock reaches 1:20 left. Clint Bowyer narrowly avoids running into the back of Ty Dillon.

NASCAR America: Cup teams take different routes to faster pit stops

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Withing with one fewer team member because of a new limit reducing pit crews from six to five, teams are experimenting with various ways to change four tires.

While crews figure out how to execute pit stops as quickly as possible, they’re also having to deal with new pit guns, not all of which worked Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

On NASCAR America, analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte took a look at the different pit crew strategies teams are trying and compared them with last year. There were three distinct strategies examined:

–The front-tire changer also carrying a tire (employed by the teams of Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch).

–A tire carrier lugging both tires to the right side of the car (used by Brad Keselowski‘s crew).

–A dual jack man approach (Ryan Newman‘s team).

At Atlanta, Harvick’s race-winning team used two tire changers, a jack man, the fuel man and one tire carrier on the rear. The front-tire changer also carried a tire and got help from the jack man.

“I think probably the thought process in that is, ‘Let’s speed up the rear up so it’s as close to the front as possible,'” Burton said.

Letarte highlighted the unique strategy of Keselowski’s team having one carrier with both tires.

“This tire carrier has about 150 pounds of tires in his hands, 75 pounds each,” Letarte said. “You have to have a strong, agile crew member.”

No matter the strategy, pit stops already have improved in two races.

“These pit stops have picked up almost 2 seconds, just from Daytona to Atlanta,” Letarte said.

Watch the video above for more on the different pit stop styles.

Below, Burton and Letarte discuss the various cost saving initiatives NASCAR has introduced this season.

 

2018 pit road, pace car speeds for every NASCAR track

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NASCAR has released the pit road and pace car speeds for all the tracks the three national series will compete at in 2018.

The only change from the 2017 season is the addition of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, which will have lower speeds than for the normal races on the oval.

The pit road speed on the CMS road course will be 40 mph, down from 45. The pace car speed will be 45 mph, down from 55.

Below is the complete list.

Track Pit road speed Pace car speed
Atlanta Motor Speedway 45 55
Auto Club Speedway 55 65
Bristol Motor Speedway 30 35
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 40 45
Charlotte Motor Speedway oval 45 55
Charlotte Motor Speedway road course 40 45
Chicagoland Speedway 45 55
Darlington Raceway 45 50
Daytona International Speedway 55 70
Dover International Speedway 35 45
Eldora Speedway 30 30
Elkhart Lake’s Road America 40 45
Gateway Motorsports Park 45 50
Homestead-Miami Speedway 45 55
Indianapolis Motor Speedway 55 70
Iowa Speedway 40 45
ISM Raceway (Phoenix) 45 50
Kansas Speedway 45 55
Kentucky Motor Speedway 45 55
Las Vegas Motor Speedway 45 55
Martinsville Speedway 30 35
Michigan International Speedway 55 65
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course 35 45
New Hampshire Motor Speedway 45 50
Pocono Raceway 55 70
Richmond Raceway 40 45
Sonoma Raceway 40 45
Talladega Superspeedway 55 70
Texas Motor Speedway 45 55
Watkins Glen International 40 45

NASCAR America video: Speeding penalties seen early and often at Atlanta

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One year after just one speeding penalty was issued in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 13 were handed out to teams in Sunday’s race. One ended Kevin Harvick‘s dominating race performance and allowed Brad Keselowski to slip through for the win.

In the middle of the season, NASCAR added additional timing lines on pit road at all of its tracks. Sunday was the first time teams had raced at Atlanta with those extra timing lines.

Steve Letarte and Jeff Burton discuss the drastic increase in speeding penalties.

“It’s simply time over distance,” Letarte said. “The smaller the distance, the harder it is for a driver to correct a mistake or a hard driving car.”

NASCAR adds more pit road timing zones at Pocono

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NASCAR has increased the number of timing zones on pit road this weekend at Pocono Raceway.

Last week, NASCAR had 12 timing zones at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — an average of one timing zone about every three pit stalls. Four drivers were penalized for speeding at Indy: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray.

This weekend, NASCAR will have 18 timing zones at Pocono — an average of one timing zone about every two pit stalls.

NASCAR increased the number of timing zones after questions were raised when Martin Truex Jr. was penalized earlier this month at Kentucky for passing leader Kevin Harvick on the left. Truex accelerated after crossing the last timing line before his pit stall and passed Harvick. To prevent similar occurrences, NASCAR added timing zones at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as an experiment and put all the additional timing zones in play for the first time last weekend at Indianapolis.

Here is the pit road chart at Pocono with all the timing zones:

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Here is what Aric Almirola said about the additional timing zones:

“It forces us to be a lot more mindful of our tach.  You have to realize and something I think a lot of people don’t understand and don’t realize is that our dash is mounted low in the race cars, so when we’re going down pit road we have to look down at our dash to make sure that we’re keeping our pit road speed at an optimal speed.

“We want to go fast enough to make time on pit road. You don’t want to go too slow because then you give up time to your competitors, and if you go just 100 RPM too fast, you’re speeding and then you get a penalty. So we’re really focused and concentrating on looking down at our dash and not really looking up at all until our spotters and crew chiefs tell us we’re five (pit stalls) away or 10 away, and then you kind of look up but at the same time make sure you’re maintaining a pit road speed.

“Before, with the timing lines being so far apart, you kind of had some leeway to where if you are supposed to be running one red light and you happen to flash two or three red lights, which would be speeding, you had an opportunity to kind of slow back down and slow back down to a few green lights and get the time between those segments back to where you wouldn’t be speeding. Now, with the timing lines closer together, if you just get a little bit greedy or you look up to see where your pit stall is at and you creep up your RPMs a little bit, you’re going to get a speeding penalty.

“I’ve long been a proponent for some sort of mechanism that we can have in the car that just causes us to go pit road speed. If they’re that worried about us getting an advantage between timing lines and things like that, why don’t they just make us all go pit road speed like every other form of racing has. I think it would be safer. I think it would give us the opportunity to actually look out of our windshields because, like I said, every driver coming down pit road – that’s why you see it a lot, if somebody checks up to get in their pit box you, you see cars stack up on pit road. We all are looking down at our dash. It’s like texting and driving.

“While we’re looking down, out of our peripheral vision we kind of have an idea of what’s going on, but you’re not as focused as what’s going on outside the windshield as you are at your dash.”