News & Media

Head2Head: Should Chase teams be allowed to alter pit crews?

September 26, 2011, ,

Last year, Chad Knaus, crew chief for the No. 48 team and driver Jimmie Johnson, made an unprecedented move in the Chase race at Texas and swapped his entire over-the-wall team with the No. 24, who was out of the Chase. As the Chase started this year, some of Clint Bowyer's No. 33 crew moved to the No. 29 of Kevin Harvick.

Should teams be allowed to change crew members during the Chase?


Of course NASCAR teams should be allowed to switch out crew members during the course of the Chase.

The best organizations these days develop reserves for their pit crews that are available at any time if a change is deemed necessary, whether because of injury or poor performance. If, for instance, Hendrick Motorsports is fielding four Cup teams, HMS will employ enough potential crew members to fully service five teams. These young men continue to train throughout the year, waiting for their opportunities if need be and attempting to take full advantage of them by proving themselves under fire if called upon.

Changing crews just before the Chase, as Kevin Harvick's team did this year, or during the latter stages of the Chase, as five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson's team did in 2010, comes with an inherent if calculated risk. It isn't guaranteed to boost performance, although that's obviously the goal.

The bottom line is that teams should be permitted to do whatever they believe gives them the best chance to win a championship, without regard to some stupid rule that somehow would limit their "roster moves" just to put them in line with other sports that are so different it's comparing apples to oranges. Or bananas. Or nuts, which is what it would be if NASCAR were to change the current rules and prohibit teams from having the freedom to make crew changes when it matters most.

Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

There's a practice taking place in the Sprint Cup Series, specifically with Chase teams, that NASCAR needs to put a stop to immediately. This business of grabbing crew members from other teams to make a title contender stronger is crossing a line.

It was taken to an extreme last season, when Chad Knaus decided to replace the No. 48 pit crew with the No. 24 pit crew mid-race at Texas. This year, the No. 29 team of Kevin Harvick made some changes as the Chase got under way at Chicagoland.

NASCAR is the only sport that allows changes to a postseason roster ... during the postseason. In every other major sport, rosters are locked well before the postseason begins -- teams go with what got them there. Not NASCAR, where an owner or crew chief can make changes and add people who have never been a part of the team at any point.

The top brass at NASCAR needs to address this in the offseason.

I understand there are four cars under the Childress umbrella, Hendrick umbrella, Roush umbrella ... but Mark Martin's crew isn't eligible for the championship; the other three are. I'm sorry for the guys on the No. 5, but you lost this season. They shouldn't be able to just move to the No. 48 or the No. 24 to make those teams better.

Multi-car teams have really blurred the lines of integrity in NASCAR -- it's time to get some of that back.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

This is a practice that's is becoming more and more popular among teams making the Chase, and while it's legal, is it something that should be tolerated? Other sports force teams to lock their postseason rosters well before the postseason begins; should NASCAR do the same? Bill Kimm and Joe Menzer are very firm in their positions. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote in the poll at the right.