October 6, 2013
Kansas was a race that had plenty of pit road drama on Sunday afternoon. Teams were on all kinds of strategies trying to set themselves up for 2 tires and gas on the last stop. All throughout the race teams were taking 2 and 4 tires and some even taking fuel only. Track position was huge so gaining or maintaining was big for the crews on pit road. Which brings us to the point of this article.
During one of the later stops in the race, the #22 of Joey Logano had a two tire pit stop. As soon as the right side dropped, Joey took off. As JL was leaving the box, he caught the tire and the back legs of his Front Tire Carrier Dave Littau. Both Dave and the tire took quite a spill. When the stop was over Dave got up and finished the race with a few bruises but nothing serious.
So here’s what happened during that stopped that caused Joey to be so close to his carrier. During a two tire stop, it is the job of the front Changer to pull and set his right front tire that has just come off the car. As the Changer is setting his tire, the Carrier is putting the next tire on the car. As soon as the tire is on the car, the Carrier then moves around the Changer and takes the PLACED tire back to the wall. Where this plan went wrong was Front Tire Changer Jay Hackney had a tire get away when he tried to set his right front tire. As soon as Dave hung his right front tire and went to take the other tire back, he noticed it was a few feet farther out on pit road than normal. Generally that’s not a problem during a four tire stop because the Carrier has time to make it up on the left side. During a two tire stop that becomes a major problem.
“When I hung the right front and seen that the tire was headed out to pit road, I knew I was screwed. When I heard Joey get on the gas to go I got my feet off the ground so my ankles wouldn’t get cut off by the splitter. After that, all I remember was seeing cement in my face and hoping my ankles were still attached to my legs.”
As soon as the jack is dropped, the drivers are taught to go and Joey went. When it was all said and done, the #22 held position and all was good. The mesh is so close between Front Changers, Carriers, and drivers, if you wait till everyone is clear you’re going to lose spots. Its a trust issue and drivers trust their crew and the crews trust their drivers. This was just one situation that got a little to close.