Xfinity, Trucks to have modified stops at standalone races

by Justin Nguyen

The NASCAR Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will feature a new pit stop format for races not run as support events to the Cup Series. On Tuesday, NASCAR announced special changes to the pit procedure to influence team strategies and lower crew costs, set to be used for the 2020 seasons on an experimental basis.

“The standalones in general provide some additional logistical and efficiency challenges for Gander Trucks and Xfinity teams,” Xfinity Series technical manager Eric Peterson stated. “Any time you have races where we’re not a companion to Cup or Cup is in a different area of the country, it is logistically harder for the Xfinity and Truck teams to accomplish those races and do all the things we do on a normal weekend.

“A lot of the teams — a good portion, not all of them — do utilize sharing pit crew personnel between Cup and Xfinity and Gander Trucks that it is a logistical hurdle for the teams to fly those individuals back and forth. Trying this procedure at these events certainly alleviates a lot of that burden on the teams to make that happen.”

On the Xfinity and Truck schedules, there are four and three standalone races that will adhere to the changes, respectively. For the Xfinity Series, such dates are the two Iowa Speedway rounds and the road courses at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and Road America. For the Trucks, the Iowa, World Wide Technology Raceway, and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park races will use the rules. Although the Trucks also have non-companion races at Eldora Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, they feature their own wrinkles as the former is a dirt track with its own rules and the latter’s race length already features enough tactic-making with the race length and its impact on fuel mileage.

For the seven weekends, teams may carry eight crewmen at most with four working the traditional pit crew duties (tyres and jackman), a fifth as a fuelman, ad a sixth to help the driver. Traditionally, Xfinity crews have seven members and Trucks have six. With the change, teams will not be able to receive crewmen from the Cup level, a common choice for individual development and farm team alliances.

Credit: NASCAR

Cautions at standalone races will be divided into “quickie” and full cycle, with the former being shortened yellow flags for minor issues like small debris, which in turn are further split by track layout. On ovals, full-cycle cautions permit teams to change just two tyres and add fuel, forcing drivers to pit again if they wish to replace the other side. For full-cycle road course cautions, teams must decide between changing four tyres or pitting for fuel, meaning they must pit again to address the other.

For quickie cautions on ovals, teams can replace two tyres and add fuel just once, while four tyres may be changed for those on road circuits. Infractions on both quickie and full-cycle yellows will result in two-lap penalties.

Teams must also beat the clock during their stops under yellow. Although the set time limit varies by track, the time to change is consistent by race though it has not been finalised as of the announcement. Drivers who fail to complete their stop before time expires are sent to the rear of the grid. Pit stops under green are not affected by this outside of those under the already-existing Damaged Vehicle Policy clock (six minutes); however, those pitting under green can only add fuel.

Coming to the green flag, the restart order depends on who pitted and their frequency: like any other race, those who stayed out will lead the field to the restart. Behind them are those on the lead lap who have pitted once, followed by those who did so twice. For lapped cars, they follow the same order, with free pass, wave-around, and penalised drivers tailing them.

While the Trucks did not feature live stops during their early years, the change has been responsible for speculation among fans and media in the months leading to the announcement, particularly the possibility of eliminating green-flag stops entirely.

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