Each week when we set up on pit road for the race, we’ve got two neighbors. One on each side. Most pit stalls, both over the wall and behind the wall, are clearly marked. Everybody gets about the same amount of real estate. And in being neighbors, you try and work with the teams around you to ensure pit stops go smoothly and everyone works together. But sometimes that is easier said then done.
Let me give you a quick scenario to illustrate my point. Our driver hits pit road, stops in the stall, and we start work. As the carrier is rolling the right side tire back to the wall, it takes a weird bounce and kicks into the stall in front (or behind). A good neighbor will help you out and knock that tire down so it doesn’t get away and we don’t get penalized. They do this hoping that if the situation were reversed, you would do the same. But if that tire somehow impedes the neighbor’s pit stop, or they don’t want to help you, that tire might magically make its way back away from the pit wall.
As in anything else, there are some people and teams in the garage you get along with, and some you don’t. For whatever reason, they don’t like you and you don’t like them. That may be one reason they don’t want to help you.
Or, at the beginning of the race, there may be no problems between two teams. But something that happens during the race might create a problem; say one team blocks another in on pit road. A driver who is blocked in is going to lose track position, and both the driver and team will be mad. Your team will probably hear some choice language at a high volume from the neighboring guys, and later on, don’t expect them to help you.
Remember when Marcos Ambrose’s gas man, Jimmy Watts, ran into the infield grass at Atlanta under green to chase down an errant tire? There were some that said the team behind them on pit road pushed the tire back away from the wall. I’m not going to confirm or deny this, but if it was true, this is a perfect example of how bad blood can affect a pit stop.
I’ve said this before on this blog, but sometimes the competition on pit road is more fierce then it is on track. Teams are shoulder to shoulder on pit road, and they battle each other for every inch. We are all competitive people, and sometimes things boil over. You will have that from time to time in big time auto racing.
Won’t you be my neighbor?