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4 Tires & Fuel: 'The Money Stop' Makes a Difference at Richmond

A late caution Sunday at Richmond put extra emphasis on 'The Money Stop', which ultimately won Denny Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing their second NASCAR Cup Series event of 2024


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In Sunday's Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway there were 200 competitive four-tire pit stops, with 79 of those stops clocking in at ten seconds or less. Roughly half of those 79 sub-ten-second stops were completed by crews from either Joe Gibbs Racing or Hendrick Motorsports, who are currently the strongest teams at NASCAR's top level.

At Richmond, pit stops were critical, and would ultimately become a major factor in deciding the winner, as a caution was displayed with two laps to go. Denny Hamlin pitted from third place but would emerge as the leader after that pit cycle. His No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew has not only been the most consistent crew on pit road, but is also usually the fastest on any given weekend, as demonstrated by the 8.99-second laid-out when everything was on the line.

When the checkered flag was displayed, and the Chesterfield, Virginia native was visiting victory lane, both he and his crew chief Chris Gabehart credited the victory to the five-man over-the-wall crew, who got him the track position needed to fend off challenges from Martin Truex, Jr., Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson.

The overall median four-tire pit stop time was 10.29 seconds. The consistency from the No. 11 crew paid off, as the No. 19 took more than a full second longer to complete their final pit stop, with a time of 10.29 seconds, after a delay on the left rear of the car. That delay was caused by a slow exchange of the old tire to the new tire due to how close it was to the lip of the fender based on the adjustments made on the car for the Richmond race.

Individual Pit Stop Times

That final pit stop time of 8.99 seconds was the winning time for the No. 11 crew but it wasn't their fastest stop of the night, putting down a blazing 8.79-second four-tire change on Lap 171. Much like we saw on-track, there was tons of representation from Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports at the top of the list for fasted individual stops.

11Joe Gibbs Racing8.79
5Hendrick Motorsports8.99
20Joe Gibbs Racing9.10
12Team Penske9.20
6RFK Racing9.29
9Hendrick Motorsports9.29
24Hendrick Motorsports9.39
4Stewart-Haas Racing9.49
10Stewart-Haas Racing9.49
14Stewart-Haas Racing9.49

It's also notable that the No. 12 Team Penske crew appears to be a standout because they're the most frequent crew from that organization to appear on this top-10 list week after week. It's a different story for Stewart-Haas Racing, as the parity there had three of its crews setting the exact same best individual stop time, at 9.49 seconds.

Best Median Four Tire Change Times

That No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew was firing on all cylinders at Richmond, as they once again topped the charts for the best median four-tire change, with a time of 9.1 seconds. Denny Hamlin battled closely with Kyle Larson on Sunday, so it's no surprise that the No. 5 Hendrick crew was close behind them, with a median time just four-hundredths of a second slower, at 9.14 seconds. The remainder of this chart shows the importance of pit stops at Richmond, with eight of the teams listed below finishing inside the top-10.

11Joe Gibbs Racing9.10
5Hendrick Motorsports9.14
24Hendrick Motorsports9.54
9Hendrick Motorsports9.59
20Joe Gibbs Racing9.65
6RFK Racing9.80
19Joe Gibbs Racing9.89
48Hendrick Motorsports9.89
2323XI Racing9.94
17RFK Racing9.99

The only crews from the list above to finish outside the top-10 were Alex Bowman (17th) and Bubba Wallace (13th). For Bowman, it was a case of attempting an alternate strategy and getting caught with a caution at the worst possible time, setting him back in the field to a point where he was never able to fully recover.

On the other hand, Bubba Wallace was running at the front of the field for a good portion of the race, but a mistake on the final pit stop sent him back outside the top-10. The No. 23 crew got done on the right side of the car pretty quickly, and when they came over to the left, the front changer ended up getting done before the rear changer. Since the jack handler was still leaning toward the rear change, the front changer decided that it would be faster for him to lower the jack in his place. This ended up being a mistake because the car dropped before that left rear wheel was tight so they ended up losing almost three seconds because they had to jack up the car and refasten the wheel.

Standouts Of The Week

LEGACY MOTOR CLUB is again showing that chemistry is starting to build within its organization, as the consistency continues to improve, as we're beginning to see sparks of faster pit stops. The No. 42 and No. 43 ranked 16th and 17th on the median four tire change charts with both clocking in at a time of 10.19 seconds. They were also able to get into the nine-second bracket this weekend, with the No. 42 knocking out a 9.7-second four-tire change while the No. 43 crew completed a 9.88-second four-tire change. The Team Penske development crew that's working on the No. 38 also showed growth by moving out of the bottom 10 in the rankings with a median pit stop time of 10.99 seconds.

Misses Of The Week

Things continue to look rough for Kyle Busch and the No. 8 pit crew at Richard Childress Racing, with problems both on-track and on pit road. This once again brought the No. 8 crew into the bottom 10, recording a median four-tire change time of 11.65 seconds. Busch's teammate Austin Dillon has had a great crew all season, typically ranking in the top-10, but Richmond wasn't their race, as they only managed to clock an 11.34-second median four-tire change time.

The other surprising entries on this list are the No. 77 of Spire Motorsports and the No. 41 of Stewart-Haas Racing as they are both typically quick and usually in the Top 15.

77Spire Motorsports12.99
34Front Row Motorsports11.9
16Kaulig Racing11.79
47JTG Daugherty Racing11.65
8Richard Childress Racing11.65
51Rick Ware Racing11.34
3Richard Childress Racing11.34
31Kaulig Racing11.29
41Stewart-Haas Racing11.14
15Rick Ware Racing11.09

The good news for many of these crews is that they'll get an opportunity to move up the charts pretty quickly as another critical pit stop race is just around the corner at Martinsville. Crews will be put under pressure once as track position will be of utter importance at this even smaller short track.

Photo Credit: Alex Slitz, Getty Images

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