On a normal NASCAR weekend when the Truck Series and/or Nationwide Series run companion to the Cup cars, there are a lot of pit crew members who double or triple dip. Crew members make some extra cash and get more reps, and the teams get top talent pitting their cars. But this last weekend presented a unique challenge for teams with the trucks in Texas, NNS cars in Iowa, and Cup cars in Pocono. With good weather, there were many guys who could have pitted two, or all three races. A rainout in Iowa threw a wrench into those plans.
Once it became official that Saturday night’s NNS race was postponed, the race was on for teams to get essential people from Iowa to Pocono, and for those teams with holes to fill in Iowa to find replacements. Most crew members are committed to their Cup teams first, so none of the big Cup teams were affected. But there were also some smaller Cup teams like BK Racing and Front Row Motorsports that had to scramble for fill-ins.
Because so many Nationwide teams rely on Cup crew members, there were holes to fill up and down Iowa’s pit road. Teams used backups, crew members from teams in other series, and some retired over-the-wall veterans made comebacks.
If you watched the race, it was probably pretty evident who was using replacements. The race was dominated by Austin Dillon, and that was helped in part by the fact that his team was fully intact. The same was true for teammate Brian Scott. Sam Hornish got most of the #22 crew, because his team is made up of a lot of Cup guys, and the #22 was pitted by replacements. All three Gibbs cars are usually pitted by Cup guys, so all three had mostly new teams. Even race winner Trevor Bayne didn’t have his full usual crew.
Two drivers who were victims of bad stops by fill-in crews were Ryan Blaney and Brian Vickers. After starting in the back, Blaney had to come from the rear of the field a second time in the race after there was confusion on an early pit stop. And later, confusion during a two tire stop for Vickers put him deep in the field, and ultimately led to him being involved in a wreck with Alex Bowman and Travis Pastrana.
When crews are thrown together at the last minute, it can be difficult to get everyone on the same page. Different teams use different methods, and any breakdown in communication can lead to disastrous stops. It’s vital for crew members who are thrown into these situations to back the pace down, make sure they know the calls, and just do the job right.
It will be back to business as usual this weekend with both the Nationwide and Cup cars at Michigan. But teams will again be looking for replacements the following weekend, with the NNS teams tackling Road America in Wisconsin, and the Cup Series heading out west to Sonoma.