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4 Tires & Fuel: Hendrick, Gibbs Continue Setting the Pace on Pit Road

Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are setting the pace in the NASCAR Cup Series this season, both on the racetrack and pit road, as was displayed prominently Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.


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At a track such as Martinsville Speedway, where track position is of the utmost importance, pit stops once again played a major role in the race's outcome with on-track passing being quite difficult for most drivers.

During the Cook Out 400 on Sunday, there were 100 different four-tire pit stops that fell within the monitored range, with 30 of those stops being registered at 10 seconds or less. The median time for a four-tire pit stop was 10.49 seconds, while only RFK Racing (9.64s) and Hendrick Motorsports (9.85s) managed to average under the 10-second mark.

Best Individual Pit Stop Times

The No. 99 Trackhouse Racing crew (Daniel Suarez) began the afternoon by setting the pace for the NASCAR Cup Series field, putting down the fastest four-tire pit stop of the race, clocking in at 9.29 seconds.

RFK Racing was just two-tenths of a second behind at 9.49 seconds, a time also matched by a pair of Hendrick-trained pit crews and the series-leading crew of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team. With the gap from second to eighth on this list only measuring at a tenth of a second, the Cup Series pit crews showed just how competitive they were during Sunday's event.

99Trackhouse Racing9.29
6RFK Racing9.49
7Spire Motorsports9.49
9Hendrick Motorsports9.49
11Joe Gibbs Racing9.49
19Joe Gibbs Racing9.50
24Hendrick Motorsports9.59
48Hendrick Motorsports9.59
2323XI Racing9.69
34Front Row Motorsports9.69

The No. 7 Spire Motorsports pit crew (Corey LaJoie), leased from Hendrick Motorsports, managed to match their counterparts on the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports crew (Chase Elliott), as both clocked in with 9.49 seconds pit stops.

The No. 24 (William Byron) and No. 48 (Alex Bowman) crews weren't that far behind, with stops clocking in at 9.59 seconds. One notable new appearance on this chart was the No. 23 23XI Racing pit crew (Bubba Wallace) with a 9.69-second stop, as well as the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports crew (Michael McDowell) who matched his time.

Seven of the top-10 quickest individual pit stops from Sunday's event came from pit crews that are training at either Hendrick Motorsports or Joe Gibbs Racing.

Best Median Four Tire Change Times

The strength of the Hendrick Motorsports pit crews really showed, as green-flag pit stops began in the final stage of the event and William Byron was able to leap to the front of the pack after the No. 24 pit crew made a four-tire pit stop in less than 10 seconds.

Byron was joined by Elliott and Larson at the front of the pack and the median four-tire change times for their crews show exactly why.

9Hendrick Motorsports9.49
24Hendrick Motorsports9.59
99Trackhouse Racing9.59
6RFK Racing9.64
19Joe Gibbs Racing9.65
48Hendrick Motorsports9.68
7Spire Motorsports9.75
5Hendrick Motorsports10.09
2323XI Racing10.09
4523XI Racing10.09

All four of the Hendrick Motorsports in-house pit crews appeared inside the top-10 in median four-tire change times this past weekend at Martinsville, with the No. 9 (Elliott) and No. 24 (Byron) crews ranking first and second with median times of 9.49 and 9.59 seconds, respectively.

The No. 48 (Bowman) crew was ranked sixth-place on the median four-tire changes at Martinsville, while the race's polesitter and early leader Kyle Larson, just missed the 10-second median four-tire stop mark by nine-hundredths of a second, placing him in a tie for eighth-place.

When it was time for the 'money stop', the No. 24 (Byron) crew was able to put the pieces together and consistently knock out fast stops, aiding their team in scoring the victory from a starting spot of 18th. Not only did that pit crew work Sunday's Cook Out 400, but they also worked Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series event for JR Motorsports, pitting the No. 8 (Sammy Smith).

I spoke with Jeff Cordero, the front tire changer on the No. 24, on Sunday and asked him what it takes to adapt from making five-lug stops on Saturday to completing single-lug stops on Sunday.

Cordero is joined by Ryan Patton (tire carrier) and Spencer Bishop (jackman) when making their way around the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro. Orane Ossowski (rear changer) and Jacob Walker (fueler) complete the five-man pit crew at Hendrick Motorsports.

While some believe having athletes fresh out of college is the fastest way to go, the numbers show the opposite, with nine of the top-10 crews in the BPCI having an average pit crew age of more than 30 years old. The No. 24 crew falls right into that sweet spot, with an average age of 34.2.

The sole outlier on the list is the No. 11 (Hamlin) crew, which has an average age of 29.5. For the first time in several weeks, that crew dropped outside the top-10 in median four-tire stop times, sitting 12th. Difficulties with the specific setup for Martinsville appeared to impact their times this weekend, brought down further by an 11.2-second four-tire change in the final laps of the race.

Justin Fieldler, a veteran tire changer and dirt racing presenter, shared his view of why it can be difficult to jack up the car quickly and how the tire exchange might end up getting delayed on the left rear.

Standouts of the Week

This week, the standouts on pit road come from the 23XI Racing camp, as both the No. 23 (Bubba Wallace) pit crew and the No. 45 (Tyler Reddick) pit crew were able to make it inside the top-10 in the median four-tire changes. showing the young pit department is making strides to build consistency.

It's a much-needed turnaround following Richmond Raceway, where a mistake from the No. 23 pit crew cost them a handful of spots as the race entered NASCAR Overtime. Not only were both crews consistent for the entire race, but the No. 23 crew even had the ninth-fastest single stop of the afternoon at 9.69 seconds.

The pit department of 23XI Racing has benefited from the off-season creation of the Pit Crew Development Group (PDG), a collaborative effort with LEGACY MOTOR CLUB that has allowed the organizations to move athletes around to find the best fit for each crew.

Most crew members are signed to long-term contracts, which makes building a new pit crew challenging, but 23XI Racing was able to hire veteran tire carrier Joe Crossen away from Joe Gibbs Racing for the No. 23 (Wallace) crew, alongside picking up rear change Devin DelRicco from Hendrick Motorsports for the No. 45 during the off-season.

Once again, the No. 43 (Erik Jones) pit crew continues to show its consistency as they again maintained the 16th-place spot in median four-tire changes. The No. 8 (Kyle Busch) crew also saw a bit of a rebound this weekend, as they climbed back into the top-20 in median four-tire change times.

Misses of the Week

While the No. 99 (Daniel Suarez) pit crew was at the top of the board on Sunday, their teammates at Trackhouse Racing, the No. 1 (Ross Chastain) crew had a slightly different outcome in the Cook Out 400, posting a median four-tire change time of more than 13 seconds, largely a result of a 16.58-second stop for four-tires in the middle of the race.

In some other surprises, Joe Gibbs Racing has a pair of crews in the bottom 10 for median four-tire pit stop times, with the No. 20 (Christopher Bell) and No. 54 (Ty Gibbs) crews. Both of these crews had problems on the right side of their cars at different points of the race.

66Power Source16.79
15Rick Ware Racing13.39
1Trackhouse Racing13.39
51Rick Ware Racing12.79
54Joe Gibbs Racing11.24
38Front Row Motorsports11.14
20Joe Gibbs Racing11.13
4Stewart-Haas Racing11.09
31Kaulig Racing11.09
21Team Penske11.09

After a four-week stint that includes three track-position-heavy short tracks, and a road course race, the NASCAR Cup Series now returns to Texas Motor Speedway -- an intermediate track which in the past has proven to be difficult to pass on. Crews will have to bring their best, again, as they could play a major role in the outcome of Sunday's race.

Photo Credit: Jonathan McCoy, Overbey Photography

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