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4 Tires & Fuel: Refueling, Consistency Critical for Pit Road Success at Daytona

Superspeedway racing is all about fuel management these days and that's made the position of fueler to be the busiest when it comes to pit stops.


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Superspeedway racing is all about fuel management these days and that's made the position of fueler to be the busiest when it comes to pit stops. Teams approached Daytona with a strategy of fuel-only pit stops whenever possible just so they could maximize their track position. Combining that with the low tire wear that we see at Daytona meant that we really only saw teams putting new tires on during stages breaks or late race yellows.

Pit crews still had to be fast on tire changes but with fuel being the biggest factor in this race, the fueler unplugging was often the limiting factor on how much time a driver spent in the pit stall during a pit stop. There were even a few times during the race where the pit stops were too fast as the fuelers unplugged a bit too soon for drivers like Kyle Busch and Bubba Wallace at different points in the race.

The fuel being measured down to tenths of second meant that drivers were taking every opportunity to save fuel whether that meant to bring the speed of the pack down or turning the car off during cautions as we see above from Denny Hamlin. Any fuel that could be saved on track would allow tenths of a second to be chopped off the time that the fueler had to be plugged in and that would result in track position on the ensuing restart. This is not only helpful for contending for stage wins and the race win but being up front typically increases your chances of surviving any big crashes.

Fuel-only stops and varied fuel strategies meant that some of the drivers only spent a handful of seconds in their pit stall for a splash of fuel and then took off. This resulted in some chaos since the leaders would be departing the stalls just as the back of the pack was entering and this would often result in cars having to dodge each other on pit lane and one even ending up turned around.

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Consistency was the name of the game when it came to tire changes at Daytona and the elite crew of the No. 24 of William Byron kept him in the game to the end so they could take home that Daytona 500 trophy.


Front Changer: Jeff Cordero
Rear Changer: Orane Ossowski
Tire Carrier: Ryan Patton
Jack: Spencer Bishop
Fueler: Jacob Walker

Photo credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Byron’s crew didn't have long to celebrate after the Daytona 500 because they had to go right back to pit lane in order to work the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and pit the No. 8 for JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro later that evening. Their day didn't actually end until early Tuesday morning when they arrived back in North Carolina.

About one half of all the Cup crews ended up pitting the Xfinity race with some Xfinity teams just contracting a Cup fueler because the position is of such big importance at Daytona. Part of the crew that won the Xfinity race working on the No. 21 of Austin Hill was also doing double duty as they also pit Cup cars for RCR.


Front Changer: Chase Masterson
Rear Changer: Michael Johnson
Tire Carrier: Jeremy "JD" Holcomb
Jack: Josh Sobecki (No. 8 Cup)
Fueler: Justin White (No. 8 Cup)

Photo credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

We saw the importance of the fueler position even before the main races kicked off as Legacy Motor Club made use of their veteran fueler Rick Rozier to hop in and fuel the No. 84 of Jimmie Johnson during the first Duel in order to increase his chances of making the race. Rozier was available because John Hunter Nemecheck was not set to race until the second Duel. The pit crew on the No. 84 was provided by the PDG joint-venture that was recently formed by 23XI Racing and Legacy MC and features and young development fueler.

The races at Atlanta this weekend will likely offer similar storylines because the nature of the racing will be the same with teams focusing on keeping fuel topped off and trying to do the math to make sure that they can make it to the end of each stage of the race. We shouldn't expect blazing fast pit stops just yet but Las Vegas is just around the corner and pit crews will have an opportunity to show off their fastest pit stops there.

-Featured image courtesy of Will Bellamy, Racing America

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