Pit Crew Challenge

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The Sprint Pit Crew Challenge was an event held by NASCAR annually at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The event was an exhibition pit stop contest featuring the top teams from the Sprint Cup Series. The event was cancelled for 2013 due to lack of sponsorship.[1]

History[edit]

The event has its roots traced to the annual Unocal 76 World Pit Crew Competition. The competition was sponsored by Conoco Phillips, through its Union 76 gasoline brand (which at the time was the official fuel of NASCAR).

The competition was conducted during the weekend of the fall race at Rockingham, and was only open to a select few teams, usually the top teams on the circuit. Teams would qualify for the event based on pit stop performance during the season. The teams competed against each other based on elapsed time. Each crew had to complete a full pit stop (tire change, fuel), and had to complete it cleanly for their time to stand. Time penalties, usually five seconds, were added for any violations found by the officials (i.e., loose lugnuts on wheel). The team with the fastest time after penalties were assessed was declared the world championship pit crew for the year.

The 2003 Unocal 76 World Pit Crew Competition proved to be the final held under that name and at that time of year, for two reasons. The first was that Unocal was pulling out of NASCAR, replaced by Sunoco as the sport's official fuel. The second was that thanks to schedule realignment and the Ferko lawsuit, Rockingham was to lose its fall race date. The Pit Crew Competition was renamed the Pit Crew Challenge and moved to the weekend of the Sprint All-Star Challenge at Charlotte.

Rules[edit]

Seven pit crew members of each team were allowed. The top eight seeds of the Sprint Cup Series point standings were allowed to have a bye into the second round of the event. The remaining eligible teams were seeded by in order of Sprint Cup owner point standings as positions 9 through 24 and competed in a head-to-head format in the opening round of the challenge.[2]

Each pit crew group (fueler and an assistant, the front tire changer and carrier as another group, the rear tire changer and carrier as another group, and the jackman) was located at separate stations in the arena. For safety reasons, the fuel cans carried nine gallons of water, about the same weight as an eleven-gallon can of racing fuel. Upon the starting signal, the jackman would lift a car on the right side, then lower the car. The tire changers would change the tires of an already-lifted simulated car on their end (front or rear). Both moves were performed on the right side first, then the left. The fueler was required to unload the 18 gallons of water into a simulated fuel tank. When their duties were finished (a NASCAR official would approve) at their time, the six crewmen (the assistant to the fueler does not participate) ran to the start of a 40-yard (36m) dash where all crewmen had to push the car down the length of the arena where the nose of the car reaching the timing beam stops the clock.

Penalties were assessed for starting too early, improperly tightened lug nuts, a jack not raised high enough, spilled water in the fueling station, or excessive water left in the dump can.

Because of the 40-yard push in the competition, most Sprint Cup drivers did not participate in the competition and usually sat next to the crew chief during the event. Typically, a team engineer, a member of the public relations staff, or a driver's wife steered the car during the 40-yard dash. This practice became widespread after the Richard Childress Racing No. 31 team put driver Jeff Burton's wife Kim in the car for the push, winning the 2009 challenge (the car even carried her name, not Jeff's name, above the window). This practice was a weight advantage in the contest, as the cars are not weighed with the driver, while side windows are removed and extra grip tape is applied to the sides to give the mechanics extra grip during the push.

Past winners[edit]

Rockingham — Two-tire change[edit]

Rockingham — Four-tire change[edit]

Mooresville[edit]

The National Pit Crew Challenge was held for one year in Mooresville, North Carolina. The event was discontinued after one edition in favor of the event in downtown Charlotte.

Charlotte[edit]

The event moved indoors to Time Warner Cable Arena. Four-tire change, pushing car 40 yards
NOTE: The driver of the car does not participate in the contest.

See also[edit]

References[edit]