The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series are taking their talents to the Watkins Glen road course this week. With that comes the challenge of pitting, as The Glen is the only place in the Sprint Cup Series where stops are done backward.
What makes this so difficult? The first thing is just simply breaking routines. Pit crews train hard year-round, and all their focus is on gaining one-tenth of a second. Now you take a random week during the year and throw in backward stop and things get interesting.
It's all good, though -- these guys are professionals.
Teams usually will start practicing for Watkins Glen either the week of the race, or sometimes a week earlier. It's usually a two- or three-stop event, so teams don't spend a ton of prep time on it. Getting used to the choreography of the stops is difficult, too. Everything is opposite of the usual flow. Getting footwork to match up can be a challenge. What are usually easy left- and right-side wedge adjustments now become more difficult.
Gasmen also have a different angle to plug their cans into. It's not uncommon to see lots of gas being spilled at a track where fuel mileage is big.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for crewmen is the penalty they face for jumping early. With the new NASCAR technology, you can't cheat the jump line. When your routine is changed, so is your timing. Expect to see a few guys leave early because their timing is off. With the anxiety of change comes the anxiety of getting across the car quicker, and that's when leaving early happens.
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