CONCORD, N.C. – The pit crew athletes of Hendrick Motorsports have made their mark at the midway point in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Including the non-points paying, but million-dollar All-Star Race win, the organization has totaled six wins. The teams of Kyle Larson (No. 5) and William Byron (No. 24) each have three victories with the pit crews playing an essential role in their drivers’ success. Late-race pit stops utilizing two-tire calls at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway propelled Byron to victory in each of those races. Fast work in the pits placed Larson in the lead late at both Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway – his two points-paying victories in 2023.
"I’m proud of how they’ve been, how hard they’ve worked all of last year, and over the offseason to get rolling for this year," No. 24 crew chief Rudy Fugle said. "It’s a really, really good group. They are fun to work with, but they’ve also been fast and have done a good job."
PHOTOS: Scenes from the Pit Crew Challenge at North Wilkesboro Speedway
The wins are proof of the clutch work on pit road during the critical moments of a race. That said, the statistics back it up as well. The No. 5 pit crew has the fourth-fastest four-tire pit stop average at 11.232 seconds. That team consists of Blaine Anderson (front-tire changer), RJ Barnette (tire carrier), Brandon Harder (fueler), Brandon Johnson (jackman) and Calvin Teague (rear-tire changer).
Slightly outpacing them, the No. 24 pit crew holds the second-fastest four-tire pit stop average at 11.128 seconds. The five-man crew consists of Spencer Bishop (jackman), Jeff Cordero (front-tire changer), Orane Ossowski (rear-tire changer), Ryan Patton (tire changer) and Landon Walker (fueler).
"I think it talks about our preparation," Fugle said of his team's strong work on pit road this season. "A lot of teams might not have worked as hard in the offseason or aren’t ready to go in the beginning, but they get stronger. I’m fully confident we can keep finding tenths here and there and keep getting faster, but consistency is the biggest thing. We never have any huge hiccups, knock on wood. That’s what those guys are great at – all of our ‘bad’ stops are still better than most people’s good stops."
RELATED: Fast facts, key info for Coca-Cola 600
As teams gear up for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, they face various challenges. Spanning 400 laps and 600 miles, the event is the longest on the schedule. Typically, this race produces the most stops on pit road in any single race, making it both a physical and mental grind to get to the finish.
"There can be so many different challenges for the pit crew during the race," No. 5 crew chief Cliff Daniels said. "Just from the pressure of having to perform great pit stops – some races you make eight to 10 pit stops a race. When you go to the Charlotte 600-mile race, you’re going to have 12 to 13 pit stops. That’s just a lot of repetition of having to perform at an elite level for hours at a time. That is a big deal and so that is probably the largest aspect of the challenge of just being a pit crew guy on a race team in that race."
RELATED: Gordon, Daniels break down first half of 2023 regular season
Keep up with all of the pit road action by tuning into the Coca-Cola 600 on Monday, May 29, at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.