New Pit Stop, Crew Rules in Place for Four NXS Races in 2020

Ron Lemasters | 1/8/2020

Iowa Mid-Ohio News Road America XFINITY Series

NASCAR rolled out plans to enhance pit stops for four Xfinity Series races during the 2020 season, starting at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Jan. 8, 2020) – During four NASCAR Xfinity Series races this season, the goings-on on pit road will have quite a different look. NASCAR officials on Tuesday announced changes to personnel and procedures for the four races in an effort to enhance pit strategy and ultimately produce more exciting racing.

In addition to limiting the options available to crew chiefs during pit stops at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (May 30), Iowa Speedway (June 13 and Aug. 1) and Road America (Aug. 8), NXS teams will also have to pit their cars using only the eight road-crew members they travel to the stand-alone events with instead of assigned pit crews that normally perform the in-race services.

“We really feel like this new pit stop procedure for the stand-alone races is kind of a unique opportunity we have with those events to try something new in the... Xfinity Series that we hope will provide some increased incentive for teams to make differing strategy calls,” was the way that Eric Peterson, Xfinity Series technical manager, put it during Tuesday’s announcement. “It will help mix up the event, provide more comers and goers and on-track passing during the race. The only way to really get a view of this is to do it, and we felt like taking a deliberate approach and doing it at the stand-alone events would be an excellent way to test it out, analyze the results when we get done and see where we go.”

In the four races NASCAR has employed the new rules, teams will not have designated pit crew members. Instead, the eight road-crew members (one more than is currently allowed) will perform pit stop duties over the wall. Four will service the car (carry and change tires, jack the car up), one will fuel and another will provide driver assistance.

Many teams in the NXS utilize relationships with NASCAR Cup Series teams to provide pit crews on a weekly basis, which is seamless when the series run companion races. The stand-alone races mean that the crews must travel back and forth between sites on race weekends. Two of the designated races in this experiment—the second Iowa race and Road America—take place during the two-week blackout of NASCAR Cup events due to the Summer Olympics (telecast by NBC Sports).

The new rules for pit procedures will play out as follows:

At oval tracks, teams will be allowed to change two tires and add fuel during a full-cycle yellow-flag period. If a team wishes to change all four tires, a second trip down pit road will be required. At road courses, teams can change four tires or add fuel, but not both. If the team chooses to do both, a second trip to pit road is necessary.

On a “quickie” or abbreviated caution period, teams can change two tires and add fuel on one stop on oval tracks with no opportunity to change more tires on ovals. On road courses, teams are allowed to change four tires or add fuel. There is no opportunity to come down again to change two more tires.

One of the interesting wrinkles in the new rules is a time element. Stops under the yellow flag must be completed within a certain time, measured from pit entry to pit exit. These time limits will vary from track to track depending on the length of pit road, but the period of time will remain the same as to how long each car is allowed to stay in its box receiving service. There is no time limit on green-flag stops other than the six-minute damaged vehicle policy already in effect, and teams are allowed to add fuel under green as well.

Cars that have tires down, whether on their own or as the result of on-track incidents will be allowed to change tires —subject to verification from NASCAR officials. Teams that violate restrictions on tire changes and fueling will be assessed a two-lap penalty, and cars that exceed the pit road time limit or pit on a lap other than their designated lap will be sent to the rear of the field.

The new procedures will also have an effect on the restart lineups, as NASCAR will align the field according to the following rubric: cars that did not pit will line up first, followed by vehicles that pitted once, those that pitted twice, lap-down cars that did not pit, lap-down cars that pitted once, lap-down cars that pitted twice, free-pass cars, those that took the wave-around and those who were assessed penalties.

“We’re definitely using it as a trial and something that we can take a look at with these events and analyze it and go from there,” Peterson said. “There’s no imminent plans to do anything beyond what we’re doing right now, but just like everything, we try to look all the time at how we can make it better for our fans and we’re going to use these events to see how it plays out and analyze the results to look at for the future.”

JRM’s Director of Competition, Ryan Pemberton, saw the changes as a way for his crew chiefs to play strategy and win races. “We've got a lot of good crew chiefs, not only here at JR Motorsports but in the industry, and it's a good time for them to be able to use their strategy, their wit, and really be able to mix up the field and play a little bit different than it's been played before,” he said.

“I really think it’s about leveling the playing field a little bit and mixing up, giving people opportunities to do something different on pit road. From a strategic point, from a crew chief’s point of view, it puts more people in play, and it should be broadened – the competition, how many guys could be in the top 10 on a regular basis and have more opportunities. From a logistics standpoint, it helps out, too, as far as the people and moving people across the country.”

The competition in the series has been stellar over the past several seasons, and Pemberton thinks the experiment will serve to enhance that even more.

“For the most part, it's really about competition,” he said. “If you're a 10th-place car and if you want to get two tires, you get an opportunity to go in front of the field with two tires, and that mixes things up, makes for different opportunities for different people. And then maybe one guy does it, maybe two guys do it, and the third guy wants to do it, next thing you know it really flips the field.

“It's going to be different at every track, depending on tire wear and what the strategies will allow for, but it's definitely going to mix things up more than it has in the past. I think that the risk and rewards there, the excitement, flipping the field is the time when people can reposition themselves in the field, maybe at a little bit of a deficit, but they're up front. Just like any other place, up front, clean air, cars always seem to be faster. That might give some people an opportunity to take advantage of something that they wouldn't normally have had a chance to do.

“If you're up front leading a race, that's something else you've got to consider, how many people are going to take two behind me versus taking four?  That's going to make even the guys up front rethink what they're doing.  Maybe they get cold feet and they go like, ‘man, I'm only going to get two because I don't want to give up the lead’, and next thing you know maybe the guys right behind them get four.

“So it's going to really change how you go about these pit stops.  And that's where the strategy comes in play, and I think that's where the excitement level comes in.”

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XFINITY Series Schedule

  • June 1 07:00 PM ET
    Cheddar’s 300 presented by AlscoBristol Motor Speedway
  • June 6 04:30 PM ET
    EchoPark 250Atlanta Motor Speedway
  • June 13 03:30 PM ET
    Homestead-1Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • June 14 12:00 PM ET
    Homestead-2Homestead-Miami Speedway
  • June 20 05:30 PM ET
    MoneyLion 300Talladega Superspeedway

XFINITY Series Standings

After Alsco 300 at Charlotte

Charlotte Motor Speedway | 5/25/2020
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Chase Briscoe2510
2Austin Cindric243-8
3Ross Chastain239-12
4Harrison Burton #234-17
5Noah Gragson232-19
6Justin Allgaier218-33
7Ryan Sieg192-59
8Brandon Jones186-65
10Michael Annett169-82