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4 Tires & Fuel: First Road Course Race of 2024 Puts Spotlight on Fuelers

In the first road course race of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, the fuelers were put in the spotlight, with fuel strategy playing a major role in the winner of the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.


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This past weekend, fuel strategy was the name of the game as NASCAR made its annual visit to Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The fuelers were the stars of the show, as many pit stops were dependent on them getting a car full of fuel before it could depart the box. There were 116 pit stops where crews changed four tires, and this week, only 35 of them were under 10 seconds.

The crews didn't slow down this week, but instead, cars were being held after tire changes were complete in order to ensure the vehicle was packed full of fuel. The standard strategy of the race was to execute three pit stops, but we saw the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team go against the grain and attempt a two-stop strategy. This resulted in an extended pit stop, as the Toyota Camry needed two cans of fuel to get the car full for an extended run.

Individual Pit Stop Time Leaders

Hendrick Motorsports showed up to Circuit of The Americas with the most complete package, as they not only were successful on track but dominated the charts on pit lane. The No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports crew (Elliott) topped the individual pit stop charts with an 8.99-second four-tire change and was joined by two other Hendrick-trained crews near the top of the board. The No. 12 crew (Blaney) spoiled the Hendrick party at the top, though, taking second-place with a 9.08-second pit stop.

9Hendrick Motorsports8.99
12Team Penske9.08
24Hendrick Motorsports9.08
48Hendrick Motorsports9.09
6RFK Racing9.30
51Rick Ware Racing9.38
7Spire Motorsports9.39
54Joe Gibbs Racing9.39
19Joe Gibbs Racing9.49
22Team Penske9.49

The most notable new appearance on the top-10 chart this weekend is the No. 51 crew at Rick Ware Racing, who started out the year at the bottom of the charts and has since shown major improvements. This week, the No. 11 crew at Joe Gibbs Racing didn't make the top-10 chart, likely a result of having to drive around the No. 34 of Michael McDowell to make their stops.

Best Median Four Tire Change Times

Throwing down a fast stop is impressive but being consistent for the whole day is usually what brings results and once again Hendrick Motorsports showed up. The No. 48 crew kept Alex Bowman up front all day and topped the median four-tire change chart with a time of 9.3- seconds. This week, are joined at the top of that chart by the No. 7 crew of Corey LaJoie which is leased to Spire Motorsports from HMS, and the race-winning No. 24 crew of William Byron.

48Hendrick Motorsports9.30
7Spire Motorsports9.50
24Hendrick Motorsports9.50
6RFK Racing9.54
22Team Penske9.59
99Trackhouse Racing9.88
14Stewart-Haas Racing9.90
3Richard Childress Racing9.94
1Trackhouse Racing10.08
12Team Penske10.08

All day, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports crew was incredibly consistent and it helped William Byron stay at the front of the field. As the race approached its final pit cycle, Byron and Ross Chastain entered the pits nose-to-tail, but the No. 24 crew gave Byron a huge gap as they laid down a 9.30-second four-tire change, compared to the 12.67-second stop completed by the Trackhouse Racing crew. That put multiple cars between Byron and Chastain at the point of the race where track position was at a premium.

The No. 24 crew consists of:

Front ChangerJeff Cordero
Rear ChangerOrane Ossowski
JackSpencer Bishop
Tire CarrierRyan Patton
FuelerJacob Walker
Hendrick 24 crew celebrates win at COTA

Improvements at Richard Childress Racing

The No. 3 crew (Austin Dillon) made the top-10 on the median four-tire change time once again, with a time of 9.94 seconds, but the most notable improvement of the week is the organization's No. 8 crew (Kyle Busch), who climbed the charts to 12th-place with a media four-tire change time of 10.28 seconds. That crew finally saw some consistency in its lineup as Josh Sobecki made a return on the jack at Bristol and stayed on for COTA. Shiloh Windsor was also moved to change tires on the rear of the car at Bristol with Michael Russell rejoining on the front. These changes put the No. 8 team back to mostly the same lineup as at Daytona, with Windsor now being the only different member since then. Keeping the same lineup for Richmond will likely be the move for the team so they can take advantage of some of the momentum from their stops at COTA.

Images Courtesy of Bozi Tatarevic

First Look at Season-Long Standings

Now that we've contested a variety of tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, we can begin looking at who has been among the most consistently strong crews for the 2024 season so far, among the 957 pit stops examined. Like our weekly reports, these pit stops have been filtered down to four tire changes ranging between eight and eighteen seconds.

Over one-third of those pit stops were completed in ten seconds or less, with the median four-tire change time for the season clocking in at 10.49 seconds. It should be no surprise that the No. 11 crew (Denny Hamlin) at Joe Gibbs Racing leads the season-long rankings for media four-tire change, with a time of 9.34 seconds. They are followed by a pair of Hendrick Motorsports pit crews that each have a time of 9.69 seconds, those being the No. 24 and No. 9 teams (Byron and Elliott).

11Joe Gibbs Racing9.34
24Hendrick Motorsports9.69
9Hendrick Motorsports9.69
20Joe Gibbs Racing9.79
3Richard Childress Racing9.88
6RFK Racing9.89
48Hendrick Motorsports9.89
14Stewart-Haas Racing9.90
5Hendrick Motorsports9.99
12Team Penske9.99

The fastest individual pit stops of the season look fairly similar, with crews from Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports taking up much of the chart. The No. 11 crew of Denny Hamlin is once again at the top with a season-record time of just 8.59 seconds for a four-tire change. Every single stop in the top-10 is below nine seconds, showing just how competitive the NASCAR Cup Series field has become both on-track and on pit road.

11Joe Gibbs Racing8.59
20Joe Gibbs Racing8.60
14Stewart-Haas Racing8.70
48Hendrick Motorsports8.88
77Spire Motorsports8.88
9Hendrick Motorsports8.89
4Stewart-Haas Racing8.90
5Hendrick Motorsports8.99
7Spire Motorsports8.99
19Joe Gibbs Racing8.99
Ryan Patton looks on at the pit stop of the No. 7 crew

Bozi Pit Crew Index (BPCI)

We've only had a handful of races to start the season, but since we've had an opportunity to see a variety of tracks, we can accurately put together our first season-long ranking of pit crews. The ranking below takes into account factors such as median and average times for a four-second pit stop, along with giving a few points for those that have the fastest individual pit stops of the season.

Consistency is most important, so media and average stops get the heaviest weight, but being able to throw out a heater of a pit stop when under pressure is important, too, which is why the fastest individual stops have been added as a factor. With all that taken into account, it's again. no surprise that the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew of Denny Hamlin takes up the top spot for the inaugural edition of the Bozi Pit Crew Index (BPCI) for the 2024 season.

Hendrick Motorsports shows the most dominance with all four of their in-house crews making the chart along with the two crews that they lease out to Spire Motorsports.

111Joe Gibbs Racing100
29Hendrick Motorsports85
36RFK Racing60
414Stewart-Haas Racing51
51Trackhouse Racing48
648Hendrick Motorsports48
73Richard Childress Racing39
824Hendrick Motorsports38
920Joe Gibbs Racing29
1012Team Penske28
117Spire Motorsports13
125Hendrick Motorsports9
1377Spire Motorsports3
144Stewart-Haas Racing2
1519Joe Gibbs Racing1

Things will heat up over the next few weeks as teams visit Richmond and Martinsville, where track position is critical to a good finish, and pit crews will be on high alert to deliver fast pit stops.

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