Pit Stop Challenge
|Pit Stop Challenge|
Action during the 2015 Pit Stop Challenge
|Sport||Indy Car Racing|
|Competition||Pit stop contest|
|Discipline||NTT IndyCar Series|
|Given for||Outstanding performance by a pit crew|
|First winner||Jim McElreath (Carillo Racing)|
|Most wins||Team Penske (17)|
|Most recent||Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
The TAG Heuer Pit Stop Challenge is a pit stop contest held during activities leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Since 1977, the event has been held on Carb Day, following the final practice session.
As many as twelve top teams in the field compete in a single-elimination, tournament-style competition, two teams at a time. Under the current rules format, during each heat, two cars line up side-by-side in a specially constructed pit lane, which resembles a drag racing layout. The cars go from a standing start and race into the pit box. Pit crews must change four tires and hook up a dummy fuel hose to simulate a refuel. The driver races out of the pit box to cross a finish line a couple hundred feet down the lane. The time is taken from the drop of the green flag to the crossing of the finish line. Time penalties are assessed for infractions such as unsecured lug nuts, jumping the start, and pit box violations. Since 2017, the final round has been a best-of-three style.
Since 2013, the event has been sponsored by TAG Heuer.
The participants for the Pit Stop Challenge are selected from the teams that are registered in the NTT IndyCar Series and entered for that year's Indianapolis 500. The bracket has varied from as few as four teams to as many as twelve. The current qualifying procedure for the event is based on the following criteria:
- Pit stop performance from the previous season's races and current season's races
- Top teams from the Indianapolis 500 starting grid.
- Top teams from IndyCar Series points standings.
In previous years, the selection criteria was based on top qualifiers for the Indy 500, top pit crews from the previous IndyCar season, pit stop time trials conducted during the week, former winners of the contest, provisionals, and other various criteria.
A random draw is usually held to set the tournament bracket and to award some drivers a first-round bye.
Best-of-three final round
|Year||Winner||Best of 3
|2017||Team Penske No. 12||Will Power||Matt Jonsson||2–1||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 5||James Hinchcliffe|
|2018||Chip Ganassi Racing No. 9||Scott Dixon||Blair Julian||2–1||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 7||James Hinchcliffe |
|2019||Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 7||Marcus Ericsson||Bob Jansen||2–1||Chip Ganassi Racing No. 9||Scott Dixon|
NOTE: In 2018, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports was that of driver Jay Howard. James Hinchcliffe, who failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, drove the car in the pit stop competition, as the team assigned Hinchcliffe's pit crew to the car. While the qualification standard was based on overall series pit stop performance (which Hinchliffe qualified as the No. 5 during the season), the crew was assigned to the No. 7 car for the race.
Most victories – Team
Most victories – Driver
Most victories – Chief mechanic
- Matt Jonsson: 3
- Owen Snyder: 3
- Chuck Sprague: 3
- Rick Rinaman: 4
Won Pit Stop Challenge and Indianapolis 500 in the same year
- 1981: Bobby Unser, Penske Racing
- 1985: Danny Sullivan, Penske Racing
- 1995: Jacques Villeneuve, Forsythe Green Racing
- 2002: Hélio Castroneves, Penske Racing
- 2004: Buddy Rice, Rahal Letterman Racing
- 2009: Hélio Castroneves, Penske Racing
Since its inception, the event has been held on Carb Day, the day in which the final practice session is held for the Indianapolis 500. From 1977 to 2004, the event was held on the Thursday before the Indy 500. Starting in 2005, Carb Day was moved to Friday and the event moved to Friday along with the Freedom 100.
In 2008, the event was cancelled due to rain and the posted prize money was donated to charity. However, since 2014, as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway race weekend includes both oval and road course events, and pit stops are now conducted often in the rain with rain tires (which are on site), the event could be held with rain tires in the rain, and can only be stopped by lightning.
During the 1980s and 1990s, this contest was held alongside a second official pit stop competition. During the actual race itself, each team that completed the race was timed for all of their routine pit stops. The team that accrued the shortest elapsed time for all pit stops combined won a cash prize, a substantial prize package of hand tools, or both.
Television coverage of the first contest appeared on ABC's Wide World of Sports. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, ABC would show highlights of the contest during the race broadcast on Sunday during down times. From 1995 to 2007, coverage was shown live or same-day tape on ESPN/ESPN2. Since 2009, coverage has been live on Versus/NBC Sports Network.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 2017 Indianapolis 500 Carb Day Pit Stop Challenge.|
- 2011 Indianapolis 500 Media Guide