Pit Stop Challenge

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Pit Stop Challenge
Bell versus Power at Pit Stop Challenge - Carb Day - Stierch.jpg
Action during the 2015 Pit Stop Challenge
SportIndy Car Racing
CompetitionPit stop contest
DisciplineNTT IndyCar Series
Given forOutstanding performance by a pit crew
History
First award1977
First winnerJim McElreath (Carillo Racing)
Most winsTeam Penske (17)
Most recentScott 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.

Eligibility[edit]

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.

Past winners[edit]

Year Winner Runner-up
Team Driver Chief Mechanic Time (seconds) Team Driver
1977 Carillo Jim McElreath Dave Kylm 15.09 Patrick Racing Wally Dallenbach
1978 Team McLaren Johnny Rutherford Phil Sharp & Steve Roby 13.80 Polak Racing Larry Dickson
1979 Team McLaren Johnny Rutherford Steve Roby 13.51 Jerry O'Connell Tom Sneva
1980 AMI Racing/Sherman Armstrong Tom Bigelow Paul Leffler 14.04 AMI Racing Division Greg Leffler
1981 Penske Racing Bobby Unser Laurie Gerrish 13.00 Kraco Racing Larry Cannon
1982 Penske Racing Rick Mears Peter Parrott 13.93 A. J. Foyt Enterprises A. J. Foyt
1983 Penske Racing Rick Mears Peter Parrott 13.860 Alex Morales Pancho Carter
1984 Kraco Racing Michael Andretti Brian Stewart 18.520 Mayer Motor Racing Howdy Holmes
1985 Penske Racing Danny Sullivan Chuck Sprague 11.742 Forsythe Racing Howdy Holmes
1986 Penske Racing Danny Sullivan Chuck Sprague 20.288 Truesports Bobby Rahal
1987 Newman/Haas Racing Mario Andretti Colin Duff 18.050 Truesports Bobby Rahal
1988 Penske Racing Danny Sullivan Chuck Sprague 14.782 Newman/Haas Racing Mario Andretti
1989 Galles Racing Al Unser, Jr. Owen Snyder 14.716 Newman/Haas Racing Mario Andretti
1990 Galles-Kraco Racing Al Unser, Jr. Owen Snyder 14.094 Galles-Kraco Racing Bobby Rahal
1991 Patrick Racing Danny Sullivan Mike Hull 13.114 Galles-Kraco Racing Bobby Rahal
1992 Rahal-Hogan Racing Bobby Rahal Jim Prescott 13.324 Chip Ganassi Racing Eddie Cheever
1993 Galles-Kraco Racing Al Unser, Jr. Owen Snyder 13.118 Newman/Haas Racing Mario Andretti
1994 Forsythe Green Racing Jacques Villeneuve Kyle Moyer 16.104 Team LOSI John Paul Jr.
1995 Team Green Jacques Villeneuve Kyle Moyer 14.556 Newman/Haas Racing Michael Andretti
1996 Galles Racing Davy Jones Mitch Davis 14.176 Pagan Racing Roberto Guerrero
1997 Galles Racing Kenny Bräck Gary Armentrout 14.284 Team Cheever Eddie Cheever
1998 Panther Racing Scott Goodyear Kevin Blanch 17.307 Team Menard Robbie Buhl
1999 Galles Racing Davey Hamilton Darren Russell 12.680 A. J. Foyt Enterprises Kenny Bräck
2000 Panther Racing Scott Goodyear Kevin Blanch 11.19 Treadway Racing Robby McGehee
2001 Kelley Racing Scott Sharp Robert Perez 9.20 Galles Racing Al Unser Jr.
2002 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Rick Rinaman 8.555 Chip Ganassi Racing Jeff Ward
2003 Cheever Racing Buddy Rice David Meeham 8.8401 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves
2004 Rahal Letterman Racing Buddy Rice Ricardo Nault 12.3365 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves
2005 Team Penske Sam Hornish, Jr. Matt Johnson 8.9704 Andretti Green Racing Bryan Herta
2006 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Rick Rinaman 8.0852 Andretti Green Racing Dario Franchitti
2007 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Rick Rinaman 8.335 Team Penske Sam Hornish Jr.
2008 Event cancelled due to rain
2009 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Rick Rinaman 7.962 Andretti Green Racing Marco Andretti
2010 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Sean Hanrahan 8.001 Newman/Haas Racing Hideki Mutoh
2011 Team Penske Ryan Briscoe Matt Jonsson 7.882 Chip Ganassi Racing Dario Franchitti
2012 Chip Ganassi Racing Scott Dixon 13.769 Panther/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Oriol Servià
2013 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Sean Hanrahan 14.854 Chip Ganassi Racing Dario Franchitti
2014 Chip Ganassi Racing Scott Dixon Blair Julian 11.737 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Kingdom Racing Sage Karam
2015 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Travis Law 12.561 Chip Ganassi Racing Charlie Kimball
2016 Team Penske Hélio Castroneves Travis Law 12.235 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Mikhail Aleshin

Best-of-three final round[edit]

Year Winner Best of 3
Results
Runner-up
Team Driver Chief Mechanic Team Driver
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
Jay Howard
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.

Statistics[edit]

Action from the 2015 Pit Stop Challenge
Team Penske won the 2015 Pit Stop Challenge

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

History[edit]

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.

Previous event sponsors include Miller (1977–1995), Coors (1996–2002), Checkers/Rally's (2003–2007), McDonald's (2008), Izod (2010–2012).

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.

Broadcasting[edit]

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.

References[edit]

  • 2011 Indianapolis 500 Media Guide