WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 8, 2009) – Pit stops are an important aspect of any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, but at Watkins Glen International they require even more preparation.
That’s because everything is backwards.
The 2.45-mile road course features a right-side entry onto pit road, which is the opposite from a traditional oval that brings drivers in from the left side. This means Hendrick Motorsports’ crews have to be ready to service their Chevrolets in reverse.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the team’s approach to the car. Greg Morin, pit crew coach for the Nos. 24/48 teams, worked with both of his teams to figure out if they preferred to keep their position on the wall or with the car. The No. 24 DuPont crew members chose to line up the same on the wall, so their positions are changed, but their movement is similar. Simply put, the front-tire changer now is changing the rear tires.
The No. 48 Lowe’s team chose to stay with its position on the car. That means the tire changers/carriers will swap spots on the wall so they can change their usual tires.
“It’s really just getting to the car and getting around the car that’s different,” said Greg Morin, pit crew coach for the Nos. 24/48 teams. “Once you get there, the lug nuts are the same, everything job-wise is the same. It’s more or less getting the approach down and getting the exit down. It’s a change in the footwork and choreography, but not the job duty.”
Pit crew coach Mark Mauldin started training the Nos. 5/88 teams three weeks ago by segmenting the practices. Despite the unique footwork, efficiency was the primary focus as the teams practiced for the two or three pit stops they’ll make this weekend.
“I think the rear of the car has a little more to overcome than the front,” Mauldin said. “There is a lot of congestion around the right rear of the car due to the fuelers fueling from the opposite side. Good work from our support personnel helps make this transition smoother.”
Race coverage of the 90-lap event begins at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN, and the green flag is scheduled to drop at 2 p.m.